The Murals Of Selkirk

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Part of a endangered species-themed mural along an outside wall feature a painting of a whooping crane and a 3-D representation of a Peregrine falcon
Exploring the many murals in Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada

In 2018, the Interlake Art Board established the Selkirk Mural and Public Art project. The years that followed have seen several murals decorate the city located on the banks of the Red River about 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba, Canada.

Selkirk was incorporated as a town in 1998 and again as a city in 1998. The 2016 census listed its population as 10,278.

25-foot-long fibreglass statue of a catfish, town mascot of Selkirk, Manitoba
Chuck the Channel Cat

Selkirk calls itself the Catfish Capital of North America because of record size catches caught in its stretch of the Red River. Hence the 11-metre fiberglass statue, Chuck the Channel Cat, located on Main Street beside McDonald’s and Smitty’s.

Once a significant inland port, the city still honours it maritime roots. Read about my visit to its Marine Museum of Manitoba here.

On the day I visited the museum, I also took some time to explore the city’s fascinating murals. The murals have been painted by professional muralists assisted by a number of mentees as part of the Interlake Art Board mentoring program.

Downtown Selkirk

Downtown street of a small city with a small town feel

Selkirk’s downtown retains a small town feel. A number of the murals are concentrated on Manitoba Avenue and the pretty lanes running off it in the block between Eveline Street and Main Street. Although murals can be found in a few other places downtown, my visit primarily focused on this small stretch containing mural after mural.

Candance Memories Show and Shine (2021)

Mural of vintage cars on a grassy lawn at the Candance Memories Show & Shine fundraiser

Candace Memories Show and Shine by artist Charlie Johnston commemorates the Candace Memories Show & Shine find-raiser, which began in 2004 as a tribute to Candace Morgoch who died in 1995. The show raises money for The Compassionate Friends, an organization offering support to grieving parents. The mural is located at 205 Manitoba Avenue.

Community Round Dance (2020)

Mural depicting a traditional community round dance at a winter festival

Community Round Dance, created by Michel Saint-Hilaire, depicts people holding hands in a traditional round dance that is taking place in the middle of Manitoba Avenue during Selkirk’s annual Holiday Alley. The winter festival boasts more than 130,000 installed LED light bulbs on 40 buildings, community events, and art-forward entertainment. The mural is located at 219 Manitoba Avenue.

The Healing Path (2019)

Intricate mural on the top half of building featuring the Métis symbol, beadwork motifs, the Four Medicines, and animal totems

You can’t help but be struck and impressed by The Healing Path by Charlie Johnston at 222 Manitoba Avenue. The Métis symbol becomes a beadwork path bringing people together towards healing. The Four Medicines—cedar, tobacco, sweet grass, and sage—radiate from the centre. Inside the path are two flower gardens composed of tradition beadwork motifs: Métis on the left and Ojibway/Indigenous on the right. Walking along the path are the animal totems of the Seven Sacred Teachings: Bison, Wolf, Beaver, Sabe, Eagle, Bear, and Turtle.

Don’t Judge Me Until You’ve Walked A Mile In My Shoes (2018)

Mural on the side of a building showing the feet and lower legs of several people with the theme of don't judge me until you've walked a mile in my shoes.

Don’t Judge Me Until You’ve Walked A Mile In My Shoes by artist Mandy van Leeuwen depicts walking together.

Park-like setting of a lane off Manitoba Avenue in Selkirk with plants, seating, and murals

The mural is located in a pretty laneway off 222 Manitoba Avenue.

Endangered Species (2021)

Mural on the side of a building with a couple of raised 3-D items shows a number of endangered species

In that laneway at 222 Manitoba Avenue, you’ll also find the Endangered Species mural which highlights seven of Manitoba Endangered or Extirpated Species: the lake sturgeon, the whooping crane, white lady slipper, burrowing owl, skink, Peregrine falcon, and the Monarch butterfly. Many artists worked to create this mural: Mark Guiboche, Lizanne Laurin, Charlie Johnston, Janet Dornian, Wendy Seversen, Cynthia Boehm, Sierrah Andersen, Amber Smith, Jannie Red Eagle, Jonathon Ostask, Ashley Christiansen, Isabelle Carels, Brad Lent, Les Hummerston.

Mural on the side of a building featuring piping plovers on a blue background
The Piping Plover

Two blocks over at the corner of Main and Morris, you’ll find the above mural painted in 2022 as part of the Endangered Species Mural Project. The mural featuring piping plovers was painted by Roger Peet, Ashley C., Sierrah A., and L².

Mashkawigaabawid Abinoojiyag or Stand Strong Children (2021)

A brightly coloured murals with reds, oranges, yellows, and greens in panel panels spread across the long side of a building features residential school stories

Another pretty lane leads one street over to 226 Superior Avenue, where you’ll find Mashkawigaabawid Abinoojiiyag or Stand Strong Children. The large-scale mural by artists Jordan Stranger and Charlie Johnston honours the lives of those who attended residential schools. It features four large panels, each of which tells a story about life for Indigenous People in Canada, before, during, and after residential schools, and imagines what the future could hold. Before the work was painted, Jordan received a lot of input from First Nations communities and Elders.

Park-like laneway between two streets in downtown Selkirk
Laneway from Superior Avenue to Manitoba Avenue

Showcasing A Colourful Past (2018)

Mural showing a collage of nostalgic items with cars parked in front of it

Showcasing a Colourful Past by Mandy van Leeuwen contains nostalgic items interwoven with metaphors: clouds with silver linings, a garden gnome with a chip on his shoulder, a glass half full, and an elephant in the room. It is located at 246 Manitoba Avenue.

Murals with a collage of nostalgic items and metaphor symbols

Prairie Crocuses (2020)

A murals on the side of a building featuring assorted women in dresses from days gone by amid purple crocuses blooming below

Members of the community designed the mural Prairie Crocus and Charlie Johnston painted it on the wall of a building on the corner northwest corner of Manitoba Avenue and Main Street. The mural is a tribute to his mother who loved shopping at Packer’s Women’s Fashion, a store housed in the building.

Other Murals

Car parked in a dead end alley with paintings on the walls of the alley

I found a number of paintings in this alley, also located off that one-block section of Manitoba Avenue. I don’t have as much information about the works, so I will simply share my photos. With the murals touching on topics like abuse, bullying, and homelessness, there does appear to be a common theme of respect and human rights.

Mural showing a bruised woman's face inside a frame with a tear dripping and a finger indicating silence in front of her lips
Murals on a stucco wall with the faces of three women
Mural showing the backs of several children huddled together and another one with head hung low off to the side
Mural showing a blindfolded woman
Murals showing a collection of white flowers with black lines covering a female face
Murals showing a male in a white t-shirt with the top part of his head covered in a cloud with homeless people in it
Murals on the three sides of dead end alley painted blue showing a large white dove that appears to fly out of the wall

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