Canterbury is a very safe and comfortable place. The staff are all very kind and helpful. We are very lucky and thankful to have them. I think Canterbury should be looking for land to build another Canterbury.
- Canterbury Resident
Creative Commission Comes to Canterbury
Crossing the street with conviction, a group of students are on a mission. On this morning they are venturing outside of the classroom, paint brushes in hand, to brighten the days of a group dedicated to sharing joy themselves. It’s mural day for the Leadership Class from Laurier Heights School as they get settled in at Canterbury Foundation where progress is being made in the building’s staff room.
The mural project is one of several ongoing collaborations that Canterbury has with their neighbours in Laurier Heights and it’s one that staff and residents couldn’t be more excited about. “The staff room had just undergone a renovation and we wanted to be a bit more intentional with the work the students were coming in to do, so things just sort of fell into place,” says Canterbury Foundation Recreation Supervisor Mbalia Kamara. “It tells our story but also has elements from the student perspective portraying what Canterbury means to them.”
Before students rolled up their sleeves to put paint to canvas, they had the opportunity to tour the facility and sit down one-on-one with staff and residents to design a mural that would best reflect life at Canterbury. “They used information they gathered from interviews with both the staff and residents and implemented a lot of those answers in their drawings,” says Leadership Teacher Brittany Babela. “We ended up creating a mural that had portions of everyone's design by creating a quadrant concept, so that it not only has the majority of creative ideas the students wanted to see but also ensured an easier way to sketch and paint the actual mural on the wall.”
For the team at Canterbury it was rewarding to see the two generations come together for this creative commision. “One of the things that I think resonated with the students was just to see the compassion that the staff have for our residents and how much our residents appreciate and value the care they receive,” says Kamara. “Staff are getting to see the mural as it progresses and are getting a better understanding of what all of the elements represent and it’s a great thing to see.”
The mural will surely brighten the days of dedicated Canterbury staff, as well as open the students up to new experiences. “I think it's imperative for students to connect with different people and broaden their world view,” says Babela. “Canterbury is filled with people who have amazing stories and backgrounds that the students can learn from.” In addition to creating new connections, their teacher says the project has helped push students out of their comfort zone. “The majority of my students are not artistic and this project was a daunting task to many of them but they tackled it with a lot of grace and effort - always ensuring to be respectful and try their very best, which is all we can ask for from anybody,” says Babela.
For student Mila Pasichnuk - getting an opportunity to bring the concept to life has been a rewarding one. “It’s been a lot of fun we’ve been making a lot of progress with it,” says Pasichnuk. “It’s a really cool opportunity, everyone can see and enjoy the work we did on the mural and later on we can look back and say we did that.”
Whether the students are painting a colourful mural, sitting down with residents to play games, or parading through Canterbury’s atrium in their halloween costumes, it’s a partnership that both sides hope to continue. “Many of our residents were teachers, or worked with children in their careers, so when they are able to connect with students again you see a whole different side of them,” says Kamara. “There’s a passion there, and a love for finding out what they’re up to and what their aspirations are, so it’s smiles all around.”
“Going forward, I cannot wait to find new ideas and ways to interact with Canterbury as the students loved spending time with the residents and it's a way to introduce them to volunteering,” says Babela.
Canterbury will host Leadership students, staff and residents for an unveiling reception in May. Keep an eye on our social media feeds for the big reveal.
We’d like to thank the staff and students of Laurier Heights School for dedicating their time to the members of our Canterbury Foundation Family.