Grade 11 and 12 students stand outside of the Public Health Office in Port Alberni with their painted murals. These murals will help brighten up the alley outside of the office. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Port Alberni students’ murals a ‘welcoming beacon’ for public health unit

Murals are a collaboration between Island Health and ADSS art class

Port Alberni’s public health office has been brightened up with a series of murals painted by local high school students.

The murals are a collaboration between Island Health and Anne Ostwald’s Grade 11 and 12 art class from Alberni District Secondary School. The paintings will be hung up along the alleyway that leads to Island Health’s Child, Youth and Family Health Unit at 4201 Sixth Avenue. The public health unit has been in a temporary space for the last year and a half as the permanent building undergoes renovations.

“This is our office space where we service parents, caregivers and young children,” explained Kaley Ruel, School Health Promotion Specialist with Island Health. “It’s just been a really uninviting atmosphere. We really wanted to brighten it up and make it more inviting.”

Ruel describes the temporary space as “notoriously confusing.” Parents and their young children have to walk down a narrow alleyway to get to the door, often times having to be redirected. Ruel hopes the artwork will become a “welcoming beacon” for service recipients.

“We will now be able to say, ‘Follow the bright murals and make a left!’” she said.

The murals follow three main themes: nutrition, early learning opportunities and protection from trauma. Each mural will also include a plaque with a description from the artist.

“Anne’s art class rose to the occasion,” said Ruel. “They did an awesome job in capturing these aspects.”

The murals are diverse in style and subject, with students painting everything from abstract art to landscapes. Grade 11 student Madi Duncan even painted a portrait of actor and jazz musician Jeff Goldblum.

Grade 12 student Emma Audet depicted a butterfly, giving service recipients something “uplifting and hopeful” to look at.

“I chose to represent freedom,” she explained, “and a feeling of flying.”

Another Grade 12 student, Sacred Brown-Collicott, portrayed a woman and her daughter embracing. The painting also includes elements of First Nations-style artwork. “It’s about telling your own story,” she said. “But also it’s about feeling safe.”

Island Health is hoping that the public health office will move to its permanent location within the next year, but the murals will also be moving.

“We’re planning to take the art with us wherever we go,” said Ruel.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Joyce Lee and Rebecca Douglas carry their painting outside of the Public Health Office on Sixth Ave. The painting of a peaceful picnic is meant to represent health and wellness. “Our ideal day for a picnic would look something like this,” said Douglas. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Just Posted

Racist incident shocks Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP looking for information

Federal government says no to relaxing log export rules

News comes after Steelworkers, Mosaic ask for ‘temporary relief’ on log export policy

Port Alberni residents gather to protest racism

Peaceful Drive By Protest planned for Thursday

San Group opens new sawmill in B.C.

It’s the first mill in 15 years to be built on west coast

Drive-in movie coming to Port Alberni

Event limited to 50 vehicles due to COVID-19

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Vancouver Island school principal mourns family killed during US protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read