VIDEO: New mural at Whippletree Junction celebrates Valley’s Chinese heritage

Emcee Kiana Chang welcomes everyone and explains the background behind the project. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Grade 10 students Cecilia Xia and Michelle Zhu sing the first song of the afternoon’s celebration. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Riva Zhou sings for the big crowd at Whippletree Junction. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Riva Zhou sings for the big crowd at Whippletree Junction. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
A large crowd gathered to celebrate the Chinese Heritage Mural, painted by Queen Margaret’s School students, enjoys a song sung by one of the mural’s designers, Riva Zhou. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Riva Zhou sings for the big crowd at Whippletree Junction. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The QMS senior choir sings during the mural unveiling ceremony. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Dr. Imogene Lim of Vancouver Island University, an important community partner in the mural project, speaks to students about how important it is to celebrate the diversity we have in Canada today. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Longtime Duncan resident, Willie Chow, says the opportunity to work together is one of the great aspects of living in the Cowichan Valley. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Whippletree Junction, just south of Duncan, got a lot more colourful Wednesday, May 29 as Queen Margaret’s School students unveiled a Chinese Heritage Mural.

Celebrating “balance” and “harmony” while “revealing, reconciling, and redressing the significant contributions of Chinese immigrants in the Cowichan Valley from 185-1947”, the colourful mural depicts a dragon and a phoenix.

Staff at QMS, including Angela Andersen, Jackie Harrison, and Robin Lee, thought it would be worthwhile to remember the days when the bulk of exclusionary and discriminatory legislation directed at Chinese immigrants and Chinese Canadians took place, because it can be easy in these different days to forget the hardships endured by those Chinese residents who called Canada home a century or more ago.

International students studying at the school selected the symbols of the dragon and the phoenix to represent reunion, balance, and happiness. Male (the dragon) and female (the phoenix) powers are shown in positions of balance and harmony in the mural.

The bodies of the dragon and phoenix contain imagery based on the stories, artifacts, events, and people specific to the Chinese community in the Cowichan Valley, with illustrations proving that individual voices and experiences can come together in a larger vision, and also reflecting on how everyone can learn from the past.

Grade 11 students Kiana Chang and Riva Zhou were chosen as mural designers from among those who submitted their ideas. They also acted as emcees at the ceremony Wednesday, their beautiful costumes making them as bright as butterflies.

The event also included songs by students Cecilia Xia and Michelle Zhu, Riva Zhou, and the school’s senior choir, and a brief address by Dr. Imogene Lim from Vancouver Island University, who, with Kathryn Gagnon of the Cowichan Valley Museum, and Simon Warne and Tony DeLange acted as mentors during the project. Lim invited longtime Duncan businessman, Willie Chow, to add his comments to the occasion as well.

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