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Newly painted Ladysmith crosswalks are public art with meaning

Every Child Matters and Ladysmith Remembers crosswalks painted on First Avenue
Michelle Oquias uses the new Every Child Matters crosswalk to safely cross First Avenue at Gatacre Street on Wednesday, Sept. 13. New Every Child Matters and Ladysmith Remembers crosswalks were painted last week and officially unveiled at a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 11. See story page A3. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)


One of the goals of the town’s strategic plan is to promote public art which was evident this week as the town unveiled new public art – with meaning.

On Monday, Sept. 11, the Town of Ladysmith revealed newly painted ‘Every Child Matters’ and ‘Ladysmith Remembers’ crosswalks at First Avenue and Gatacre Street. It was a hard secret to keep as the crosswalks were actually painted the previous Wednesday evening.

Attending the ceremony were Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott, representatives from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 171 and other community members.

The new painted crosswalks are at the same intersection as the Pride crosswalk. The ‘Every Child Matters’ crosswalk is orange with white feathers, intended to help raise awareness of the victims and survivors of the residential school system. The ‘Ladysmith Remembers’ crosswalk, blue with red poppies, is a tribute to veterans of Ladysmith and surrounding area and to acknowledge work done by the Legion. While the intersection was closed for the new installation, the town took advantage of the closure to repaint the rainbow crosswalk to include representation for the intersex community.

At Monday’s ceremony, Mayor Aaron Stone acknowledged the work done by council and staff in working on “not just showing signs of inclusivity, but walking the walk as well.”

Stone paid tribute to the Stz’uminus community and said “there is still work to be done in reconciliation, but the town is making efforts to continue on this path as a partner and good neighbour.”

The mayor thanked the Legion members in attendance and paid tribute to the work the Legion has done for many years, not just in Ladysmith but across Canada.

Elliott thanked council for the support it has shown toward “working together as one” in a good way. He said “The inclusion of the Every Child Matters message in Ladysmith’s downtown helps to get the message across that there is a need to keep moving forward.”

The design for the two new crosswalks was done locally, with town staff member Mike Gregory designing the veterans crosswalk and Trish Oldfield, a member of the Arts Council of Ladysmith and District, designing the Every Child Matters crosswalk.

The Ladysmith Legion and Stz’uminus First Nation were consulted about the designs.

“The new crosswalks and the messages that they send are a beautiful contribution to Ladysmith’s downtown. It shows the acceptance by the community and the strength that the community has,” said Cheri Mactier, chairperson of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce.

Kathy Holmes, representing the arts council, said the new artwork on the crosswalks is a source of great pride.

“Not only are the messages important but the crosswalks are public art. They will give locals and visitors and insight into the community,” she said.

In conjunction with the new crosswalks, the Ladysmith Arts Council co-ordinated the hanging of more than 1,000 orange feathers in the trees along First Avenue in the lead-up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

Local artist Steen Hjort hand-cut the wooden feathers and they were all painted and decorated by students from North Oyster, Ladysmith and Stz’uminus. Home Depot in Duncan donated the materials for the feathers.

The crosswalks were part of downtown refresh projects mostly paid for by grant funding, which included other painting and installation of decorative lighting at a cost of $543,000 including $407,000 in grant money and $136,000 from reserves.

READ ALSO: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation much more than a holiday, says Island elder

Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott and Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone at an unveiling ceremony of two new symbolic crosswalks at the intersection of First Avenue and Gatacre Street on Monday, Sept. 11. (Duck Paterson photo)
The Ladysmith Remembers crosswalk honouring veterans the Royal Canadian Legion. (News Bulletin photo)

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