Anti-racism starts with education.
Those words, along with a raised clenched fist in a variety of colours, are painted on a new mural at Chippewa Secondary School.
The project, which also commemorates Black history, was designed and coordinated by grade 11 students Rainat Salako and Omobola Agboola.
Salako says there’s a message they wanted to convey.
“Just to be kind to everyone, that everyone is equal and to think about things that they say,” she says.
Agboola says she wants the mural to encourage other students to be themselves and feel that they can do big things.
“It doesn’t matter whether they’re white, Black or Hispanic. That’s why there’s a variety of different colours, not just dark colours, not just light colours,” she says. “So that everyone feels represented, not just one race.”
Agboola says they’re getting support from their fellow students and others.
“Walking down the halls, people have said it looks great,” she says. “[We’ve received] a lot of support from our principal and teachers at our school telling us that it was a great idea. Our family, even our extended family that doesn’t live in North Bay, that live in the UK and Nigeria, they’re encouraging us as well.”
Placement of the piece was also important.
“The message about anti-racism starts with education, we wanted people to see it when they came into the school, so that’s why we put it by the doors, and in the sun, so people could see it,” Salako says.
“Representation in our schools is so important and this mural will be a reminder that all Chippewa students are beautiful, strong, and important,” says Ashley Oszytko, intermediate art teacher at Chippewa. “We embrace different cultures, races, genders, and beliefs here at Chippewa, and the raised clenched fist will now be a permanent reminder that anti-racism begins here in the hallways of our schools.”
The mural was created as a Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) project in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.