A National art mural project depicting internment camps during World War 1 is launching in Vernon.
The project will be headed up by local artist Michele Loughery, herself a internee descendent who grew up hearing stories of her grandfather spending his life looking for his brother.
She met with members of the community earlier this week, some of which brought photos and shared their stories.
“It was amazing and fairly emotional for me,” says Loughery.
“They were all so excited and wanted to share their stories and were very proud that we were going to tell their story.”
The mural will focus on the thousands of men, women and children of Ukrainian and European descent living within Canada during WW1. It will combine multi-media, traditional art and videography as well as historical photographs and personal stories from the families directly affected.
Vernon was one of 24 internment camps around Canada between 1914 and 1920, and Loughery hopes to bring the same impact to each of the communities. She says others have expressed interest in the idea, but no plans have been finalized at this point.
The Vernon mural is tentatively scheduled to be created during a two month stretch between May and June of this year – depending on the weather. At the same time, group sessions and kids workshops will continue throughout the summer months.
Part of the mural will include the story of an English woman who chose to enter an internment on her own free will, after he husband was confined to the camp for six years.
“Our hope is also to blend with residential school issues because I think this project could plant a seed and allow us to say …we are so sorry it happened to you, but it happened to us too.
“It’s a human condition and let’s look together, let’s come together and say we’ve all been interned in some way and we all have a story that will break your heart.”
In time, Loughery would also like to organize an outreach program where artists and kids could respond to the story with what their internment is – a mural that would explode in various areas of the downtown core.
The sight of the main Mural has already been finalized. It will be on the wall of the Sutton building, near the intersection of 25th Avenue and 30th Street.
For more information on this project, you can visit Michelle’s website.