EDMONTON, ALTA.—Edmonton officials are removing three murals at an LRT station due to their association with Canada’s infamous residential school system.
The city announced it would remove the Government Centre LRT station murals later this fall after extensive discussions with the Grandin Working Circle and other stakeholders. The murals were installed on the west wall in 1989 to commemorate Francophone history and heritage in Alberta. They included an image of Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin, whom the station was named after.
“Edmonton’s Grandin Station murals, glorifying one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system, proved too much for many survivors and their families,” said Terry Lusty, Métis Elder and member of the Working Circle, in a press release. “With no intent to offend anyone, but in an effort to address the discomfort and re-traumatization of survivors, it was decided to remove the images causing the grief and eventually replace them with more acceptable images that have yet to be determined.”
In June, city officials unanimously passed a motion to cover the original murals and to remove the name of Bishop Grandin from the station. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report includes details of Bishop Grandin’s role in lobbying the federal government to fund Indian Residential Schools.
The city plans to keep the original mural space covered in orange while the Working Circle continues to meet and engage towards determining a new name and vision for the station. The artworks installed by artists Sylvie Nadeau and Aaron Paquette in 2014 will remain.
The Working Circle has been meeting regularly since September 2020 to discuss concerns about the images and depictions in the mural after an online petition was launched in June 2020. The group has engaged in a community-driven, relationship-building approach through the involvement of Indigenous Elders, Indian Residential School survivors, Sixties Scoop survivors, petition author Jade Balona, artist Nadeau, the Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta, Société historique francophone de l’Alberta, the Edmonton Arts Council, the Edmonton Heritage Council, and the City of Edmonton.