Grandin mural covered by orange panelling at Edmonton LRT station


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A mural depicting the residential school system at an Edmonton LRT Station has been covered up hours after city council unanimously voted to take that action.

On Monday, Mayor Don Iveson introduced a motion to remove the reference to Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin in the Government Centre LRT station and on city signage as well as cover the controversial mural, which showed a nun holding an Indigenous child away from their family. Council had agreed to act on those items as soon as possible.

By Tuesday morning, orange panelling had been placed on top of the mural. The colour represents reconciliation.

Grandin, who lived in St. Albert, was an advocate for the Indigenous residential school system and lobbied the federal government to invest in the practice of separating children from their families and removing them of their culture.

The decision to remove his name from city property came after the discovery of 215 children buried at a former Kamloops residential school site in May.

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After Grandin’s namesake is removed, including audio station announcements on the LRT system, the city will consult with a working circle, made up of Indigenous and Francophone community leaders, on what to do with the mural. The group and the city’s naming committee will be tasked with recommending a new moniker for the station.

The mural in Grandin Station was first created in 1989 to celebrate the historical contributions of Alberta’s Francophone community, particularly Bishop Grandin. The mural had long drawn criticism and as a result, two new panels were added to it in 2017 as well as a piece by now-city councillor Aaron Paquette depicting Indigenous history in Edmonton.

Iveson said Monday he believes the renaming and removal of the mural is the “respectful and healing thing to do.”

“People, particularly survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schooling, have no choice but to be in its presence and behold it and people have reported for some time that is triggering and re-traumatizing for them,” said Iveson.

He added that it’s possible to preserve the mural in an appropriate place, like a museum, where people can be warned ahead of time and important context included.