The swiftly changing face of the world’s coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken over conversation at the office water coolers these days—and has likely taken away the water coolers too.
With the economy stalled, messages always changing, and threats from the virus very much unknown, it is difficult to look ahead. Life must continue in spite of COVID-19, however.
In the Alberni Valley, budget talks are ongoing, buildings deemed a nuisance still need to be dealt with, and non-profit organizations faced with sudden temporary closures must still continue to fundraise.
One project that has been receiving unfair criticism in the face of COVID-19 is Arrowsmith Rotary’s mural project.
In February 2019, Arrowsmith Rotary requested proposals for a mural to cover the expansive side of the Canadian Maritime Engineering (CME) building across from the Port Alberni Train Station. Rotarians had decided on a theme of reconciliation, which was at the forefront of community leaders’ minds at the time.
This project deserves our attention for a number of reasons. The announcement of which artist won the bid to create the mural was delayed by a year. It was past time to let people know what was going on, especially since $20,000 has already been raised and set aside for the project.
Some people felt the City of Port Alberni should re-direct the money to measures that would help people get through the pandemic. The $20,000 has been raised by Rotary, and although the city is partnered with Rotary, the Port Alberni Port Authority and CME (who leases the building from the port authority), the money is not theirs to disburse.
What started out as a mural about reconciliation has become a symbol of building relationships. In the Alberni Valley, where we have a high population of residents from several different First Nations, this is important. While the nations and municipal governments have started conversations, we have a racism problem here.
We need to do a better job of building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the Alberni Valley. With better relationships comes understanding of one another.
— Alberni Valley News