Fort Smith artist’s mural unveiled in Vancouver

Melanie Jewell's mural in Vancouver, My Journey Home
Melanie Jewell's mural in Vancouver, My Journey Home. Photo supplied by NWT Tourism
Melanie Jewell’s My Journey Home mural.

A mural painted by Fort Smith’s Melanie Jewell in Vancouver’s South Main neighbourhood received its official unveiling at the weekend.

The mural, My Journey Home, was part of this year’s Vancouver Mural Festival. Jewell’s work covers 1,000 square feet of a building that houses a Starbucks coffee shop and a yoga studio.

Keith Henry, president of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, said in a press release that the mural would “provide permanent inspiration for the Northwest Territories and advance the awareness, the interest and appreciation for Indigenous tourism experiences across this country.”

Jewell was accepted by the festival after participating in last summer’s Strong People, Strong Communities project organized by sisters Mahalia Yakeleya Newmark and Kalina Newmark.



Melanie Jewell's mural in Vancouver, My Journey Home
Melanie Jewell. Photo: Morgan Tsetta

The Dene artist earlier told Cabin Radio: “I never thought that 13-year-old me, drawing in my bedroom, would have this happen.”

Jewell conquered a fear of heights to use a scissor lift and complete the mural.

Ahead of the unveiling, NWT Tourism said the weekend ceremony would involve a free public concert by fiddler and composer Wesley Hardisty.

The mural, front centre, is seen from the air
The mural, front centre, is seen from the air. Photo supplied by NWT Tourism
A map shows the mural’s location in Vancouver.

NWT Tourism said the mural was part of an initiative “to build awareness of the Northwest Territories as a destination with new audiences in Vancouver and around the world” as the territory recovers from two years of pandemic-imposed isolation.



Work on the mural took place in June and July. It depicts the northern lights guiding bears home.

“I’m a proud Dene artist sharing my story, our story, with the world,” Jewell said in a video celebrating the mural’s creation.

“This is the land that inspires my work. As northerners, we see things differently.”