MONTREAL, MAY 15, 2009 - Thirty French and English elementary students from the English Montreal School Board’s (EMSB) Gerald McShane and École Jules Vernes of La Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'Ile (CSPI) will formally unveil a a clay mural they have been working on since last fall on Thursday, May 21 (9:30 a.m.) at the Maison culturelle et communautaire de Montréal-Nord (12004 boulevard Rolland).
During their work together the students discussed values of community and friendship. As these ideas took clear shape in their minds, they were transformed into clay. The project aims to bring together the students from the mostly Italian English community and the mostly French Haitian black community to get to know each other, bond, and build relationships. Lynda Faulks, a renowned artist from British Columbia who specializes in large collective clay murals, guided the students in designing their unique clay plaque, which was dried and then fired to become ceramic. This month the artist returnd to Montreal for another week to round off the activity with the children, and help them apply the finishing touches to their work. The plaques have now been framed and mounted as one mural on the wall of the Maison culturelle et communautaire.
Ms. Faulks has worked with students in communities as far north as Goosebay, Labrador and as far east as Japan. “Once you see the excitement that this generates, and the self-esteem that this builds, you can’t help but be hooked on the idea of making murals”, expressed Ms. Faulks.
”For the last while, we have been looking for ways to bring students with different cultures together,” says Gerald McShane Principal Evelyn Alfonsi. “I got on the phone with the principal of École Jules Vernes across the road and agreed with her that we had an amazing opportunity.
“In bringing together the Grade 6 students this past October, it was our desire to have them undertake together a mural that would serve as a publically displayed reminder of the belief that young people can work together in a spirit of fellowship and through their creation, have an impact that can affect change and remind us of all that is good.”
To be accepted into the project, students were interviewed to find out what their motivations were for being in the project. “Students expressed their desire to create, to work with art” expressed Jules Verne’s Principal, Claire Stabile. “What was common to all of the interviews was the desire to do something valuable and permanent for the community.”
“The mural that was completed by these 30 Grade 6 strudents from JulesVerne and Gerald McShane is a work of inestimable value,” said Marcel Parent, mayor of the borough of Montreal North. “These youngsters have presented us with a message of hope, respect and peace. We should all follow their example.”
Once the two schools banded together, finding money to help pay for the endeavour was quickly resolved by EMSB Commissioner and Vice Chair Sylvia Lo Bianco. She communicated with the borough of Montreal North which quickly saw the merit of the project and worked hard to find a meaningful venue for the work of art. The principals of the two schools are also applying to different organizations for money to pay for the project.
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