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Art comes to the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre
“Our idea was to bring art into the Centre for everyone to enjoy – participants, teacher-monitors, staff and visitors,” said Encounters with Canada Director General Linda Brunet. And so our vision began.
Large multi-media, acrylic murals were the first order of the day, designed for our six student meeting rooms. The theme was easy – a celebration of Canada. The product – floor-to-ceiling ceiling murals in each room, each with different majestic vistas – panoramic views of the Pacific Coast, the Rockies, the Arctic, the Prairies, the Atlantic Seaboard and the lakes of Ontario and Quebec.
Next up was a stunning piece of art for the Centre’s foyer. O Canada! Our home and native land, is the title of this piece, chosen by the Encounters with Canada staff to honour the resulting one-of-a kind ceramic mural. Fifteen feet long and four feet high and composed of 255 individually handcrafted pieces of clay, it took six months from conceptualization to completion. Indeed, it was so immense that the artist, Nicole Bélanger, rented an unused 135-year-old church in which to craft our mural.
Her inspiration, she said, was citizenship. “I was looking for a theme that would live through time, that speaks to everyone and would be representative of Encounters with Canada and its mission,” explained Nicole. The underlying theme – from sea to sea, represented by a huge canoe with 23 young people aboard from the many cultures and heritages that make up Canada - with the bow touching the Rockies and the stern striking the waves of Newfoundland.
These magnificent pieces of art are all the creations of Franco-Ontarian visual artist Nicole Bélanger. She specializes in directing group murals, at the conceptual and creative level, in both schools and the community. Nicole believes in the energy of a group effort - that there is room for everyone to create – most particularly, young people. Her unique murals can be seen in several Ottawa elementary and secondary schools, as well as throughout Ontario.
Nicole is presently at work creating artwork to adorn the walls of the teacher-monitors’ bedrooms and the four student dormitories at the Centre.
We, at Encounters with Canada, have formed a close bond with Nicole over the past year, which will live on into the future through her magnificent artwork found throughout the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre.