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Young Courtenay resident creates mural with a message of hope

‘Be kind’ mural painted on space above AIDS Vancouver Island building in downtown Courtenay
Annika Funk and Josh Klassen put the finishing touches on the mural together. Photo supplied

On Wednesday morning, Annika Funk was putting the finishing touches on her final high school project.

Funk, who was part of the GP Vanier graduating class of 2021, has been perched on a scissor lift in front of the AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) office for much of the past two weeks, creating an inspirational mural.

The message is as simple as the action it suggests: BE KIND.

The location was key for Funk. A previous location, at the Warming Centre on Cliffe Avenue, was denied, due to existing lead paint on the building. So she went in search of another suitable location.

“The muralist I am working with, Josh Klassen, had a contact here at AVI, and to (express) the theme of kindness, and places that amplify that, we thought it would be great to put it on this building…, and they gave us permission, so that’s how it got here.”

“Personally I think it worked out great at this location because AVI does so much great work in the community,” said Klassen. “They deserve something beautiful with a simple yet powerful message on their building. I hope that it sheds a light of kindness on everything AVI works so hard to achieve.”

Del Grimstead, harm reduction staff at AVI, said they were thrilled with the idea.

“We were all for it, right off the top,” he said. “It’s just a really cool idea. We love seeing murals all around town, and especially something like that - it’s so meaningful in these troubled times. Kind thoughts, kind words.”

Funk said that while she does not discount the possibility of doing another mural in the future, this was done as part of her Grade 12 curriculum.

“It was kind of a one-time thing,” she said. “In B.C. last year they introduced a new curriculum which is called The Capstone Project. It’s a Grade 12 requirement.”

According to the BC Curriculum guide, Capstone is “an opportunity for students to further develop and showcase their strengths, passions, and learning journey to a relevant audience. As a celebration of their learning journey, the capstone is a place where students are encouraged to share successes both in school and out of school, including their reflections on Core Competency development, their contributions and aspirations, and their plans for post-graduation.”

Klassen said while he guided Funk, she deserves credit for the idea and the design.

“Annika designed the mural and came up with the concept. I helped her with any technical and logistical questions (i.e. what type of paint to use; what type of brushes),” he said. “The surface we were painting on was something new to me so it was a bit of trial and error.”

Funk said she picked the kindness theme because of its relevance in society, especially throughout her Grade 12 year.

“I think being kind is especially important during the global pandemic. It has been a very stressful time for a lot of people and this gentle reminder is a good thing. Kindness is something I wanted to spread. It’s a good message.”

AVI Courtenay is located at 355 6th St.

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The ‘Be Kind’ mural is above the AIDS Vancouver Island offices on 6th Street in Courtenay. Photo by Terry Farrell
Annika Funk puts the finishing touches on her ‘Be Kind’ mural on 6th Street in Courtenay, above the AIDS Vancouver Island offices. Photo by Terry Farrell

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 14 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
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