Edmonton's 'Graffiti Granny' enlists students to paint baseball dugout mural

This week, a mural painted by 60 students from Cathy Backewich's North Callingwood neighbourhood in west Edmonton was unveiled to prevent graffiti tagging on the baseball dugouts.

'The kids that are coming out to play and do positive things end up seeing some pretty nasty stuff'

Students in west Edmonton's North Callingwood neighbourhood put the finishing touches on a mural project led by Cathy Backewich, on Monday, June 10. (Oumar Salifou/CBC)

Cathy Backewich is enlisting the next generation in the battle against graffiti. 

Backewich is known to many as the "Graffiti Granny" because she is often seen covering graffiti tags on public structures in west Edmonton.

This week, a mural painted by 60 students from her North Callingwood neighbourhood in west Edmonton was unveiled in an effort to deter graffiti.

The special piece of artwork was painted on the back of a baseball dugout by students of Callingwood Elementary and Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic High School.

"The dugouts here have been hit by graffiti over the years several times and sometimes, it's not very nice stuff that goes on them," said Backewich, in an interview on CBC Edmonton's Radio Active on Monday.

Cathy Backewich is known as the Graffiti Granny. Now she's enlisting school kids in the fight against graffiti. Meet some of the people that helped create a community mural in the Callingwood neighbourhood. 8:34

"The kids that are coming out to play and do positive things end up seeing some pretty nasty stuff. So we clean it up and it works if you clean it up. They get frustrated. I don't know if they just give up or move on, but we'd like to keep it a safe, healthy place to live."

Wildlife theme

The bright blue and green landscape features the wildlife found in the community.

"We get everything here because we're close to the river," said Backewich. "We've had deer, we get the coyotes, we've had red fox, we've got the woodpecker that lives in the forest over here that wakes up everybody … porcupine. It is a perfect picture of what you can see if you come here any day of the year."

The students started painting it in May and unveiled it on Tuesday.

As a permanent reminder of being part of the community creation, the students engraved their names on the trees lining the dugout mural.

Backewich first garnered attention a few years ago when she was spotted cleaning up graffiti tags on the Whitemud Drive sound barrier walls in her neighbourhood.

There are seven different communities in Edmonton currently working on mural projects, as part of the city's Capital City Clean Up, a litter reduction and graffiti prevention program.

About the Author

Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist, born in Zimbabwe. She is an associate producer and reporter at CBC Edmonton. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca or on Twitter @TandiwayK (https://twitter.com/TandiwayK).

With files from CBC Edmonton’s Rod Kurtz


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