Winnipeg skateboard pioneer honoured with mural at The Forks

The man credited with helping to create Winnipeg’s skateboarding scene is being honoured with a new mural at The Plaza skateboard park at The Forks.

Mural of Jai Pereira painted by England graffiti artist, Mr Cenz

English artist Mr Cenz started work on a mural of the late founder of Sk8 Skates, Jai Pereira, at The Plaza skateboard park at The Forks Friday. (CBC)

The man credited with helping to create Winnipeg's skateboarding scene is being honoured with a new mural at The Plaza skateboard park at The Forks.

Work on a mural of Jai Pereira, the late founder of Sk8 Skates, started at the skate park Friday.

"It's a way that kids can ask questions and learn who Jai was because it's been 17 years since he passed away," explained Sk8 Skate's current owner, Colin Lambert, who calls Pereira a mentor.

"The way he ran Sk8 Skates and the way he did stuff in the community, that's what made me want to do that and be a part of it."

Current Sk8 Skates owner Colin Lambert calls Pereira as a mentor. (CBC)

Pereira, 34, and his partner Alana Lowry, 32, were killed in a motorcycle crash in 2001.

Lambert said Pereira would be "stoked" to know about the mural.

"He was a great guy with a big heart," he said. "And I think he'd also just be stoked to see this park and see the kids using it and getting hyped on skating."

Sk8 Skates opened in 1987 and Lambert said Pereira was dedicated to spreading skateboarding across the city, inspiring young people like him to get involved in the sport.

He says Sk8 was and remains a hub of the Winnipeg skateboarding community.

Mr Cenz says he chose the photograph of Pereira because of a “deep look” he saw in his eye. (CBC)

"It's the place where everybody met up, it was the place that threw professional demos or competitions or sponsored local skateboarders," Lambert said.

"It really was the base of the skateboarding community."

The mural — created by English artist Mr Cenz — will feature a portrait of Pereira's face and will cover the outside of the bowl at the skate park.

"This is a really important piece for him, he advocated for skating in Winnipeg and it's a real honour to be doing this," said Mr Cenz while working on the mural Friday.

The London-based artist is using blues and purples and plans on adding fluorescent colours so the mural "glows up" at night, he says. 

In all he says he'll use around 30 different colours and just as many cans of spray paint.

Mr Cenz is creating the mural while in Winnipeg to present an exhibit at Graffiti Gallery.

The mural covers the outside of the bowl at the skate park. (CBC)

"We thought having something visible that people in the skateboard community can see would be super rad and now we get to do it," explained Pat Lazo, artistic director at Graffiti Art Programming, who also previously worked with Pereira at Sk8 Skates.

"He created this family-like setting at the shop and you felt like you were really part of something."

The mural is expected to be completed by Saturday.

With files from Megan Fiddler