Cowichan Tribes’ artist Shawn Johnny unveiled his first mural at The Hamlets at Duncan assisted living facility on York Road on Aug. 3.
Marie Rowland, the community relations coordinator at the The Hamlets, said the plan since the facility opened in 2021 was to have a mural painted on the side of the building to honour the local First Nations
She said Johnny was chosen for the job, and he met with some of the seniors living at The Hamlets to get their opinions of what the mural should look like.
“It was decided that the mural would contain Canadian geese, herons and frogs, which are animals that can be found at the Somenos Marsh located right next door to The Hamlets, and a Quw’utsun symbol in the middle,” Rowland said.
“Shawn worked through some of the hottest days of this summer to complete the mural and we’re really pleased with it.”
Johnny has been a native artist specializing in small prints since he was a youth.
He said his grandparents, native carver Ed Thomas and his wife Mary, a knitter, were a major artistic influence on him when he began his career.
Johnny also studied with Cowichan master carver Simon Charlie from 2002 to 2005, and carried on his training with Coast Salish multimedia artist, lessLIE.
Throughout his career, Johnny has overcome several personal obstacles to get where he is today.
He said his renewed dedication to the arts has been therapeutic and he uses his past to strengthen the future.
Johnny said his goal is to share his artwork, be remembered, and to teach his younger family members traditional skills.
He told the large crowd who had gathered so see the unveiling of the mural at The Hamlets that he was touched when he was asked to take on the project.
“I could have come up with my own concept for the mural, but I thought it was important to talk to the elders at The Hamlets about what they wanted to have in the mural,” Johnny said.
“I don’t live here and the elders here are the residents on this traditional land. I’m thankful for what we created. The mural is part of our journey together. I’d like to thank Cloverdale Paints for providing all the painting supplies for the project.”