Youth in Inuvik design art for bright new mural downtown

As residents in Inuvik, N.W.T., head down Mackenzie Road — the main street in town — they may notice that the local NorthMart looks a little different.

Mural has been talked about for 4 years, finally comes to life for town's 60th birthday year

Artist Patrick Thompson poses in front of the NorthMart in Inuvik, N.W.T. Thompson is facilitating the town's mural project to liven up downtown. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

As residents in Inuvik, N.W.T., head down Mackenzie Road — the main street in town — they may notice that the local NorthMart looks a little different.

The front side of the building used to be a blank white wall, but it's now vibrant yellow, with pink and purple animals and snowmobiles gracing it.

The designs were created by local youth who worked with an artist to see their creations come to life.

Not everybody has the luxury to have art at home or have the time to make their own art.- Patrick Thompson, artist

The town of Inuvik initiated plans for a mural about four years ago.

"This year in particular we knew with the Inuvik 60th [anniversary], the Great Northern Arts Festival 30th ... we really wanted to see if we could get something to showcase some vibrancy," said Jackie Challis, Inuvik's director of tourism and economic development.

The town put in an application with the NWT Arts Council and received $10,000 to help support the project, and also received some in-kind donations and sponsorships.

The next step was finding an artist who had experience creating art in the North, and with engaging youth.

NWT Arts Council granted $10,000 to help support the mural project in Inuvik. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Patrick Thompson was picked for the task. Thompson co-runs Embassy of Imagination, a mobile arts school that has worked with kids for about six years in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

He arrived to town at the beginning of July and worked with kids at the library.

"I asked them to go back into their memory banks just with scissors and paper to cut out these animals they were drawn to," said Thompson.

From there, he scaled the paper-cuts to a bigger size and sawed the large-scale creations into about 60 wooden animals.

Young girls 'excited' to see own designs

While Thompson and his crew were putting up the mural, Angel Esau-Minakis​ and Kaycee Campbell biked by.

The young girls created a cut-out that they named a "bunny-seal."

"It's nice to know that other people are going to see what we made and I'm kind of excited that it's going to be on the side of a building," said Campbell.

Angel Esau-Minakis and Kaycee Campbell with their own 'bunny-seal' design. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The girls were among more than 20 youth who contributed their designs.

Thompson said the mural gives the town artwork to look at for years to come.

"Not everybody has the luxury to have art at home or have the time to make their own art … and I think having art in public spaces is healthy for everyone," said Thompson.

"Being reminded of the talents of the young people who live in this town and other towns is good for everyone. It reminds us that the future is bright."


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