Fort Smith artist accepted to paint mural in Vancouver

Last modified: June 10, 2022 at 9:36am

Dene artist Melanie Jewell will take part in this month’s Vancouver Mural Festival, a non-profit event that works with artists to enrich the BC city’s arts and culture.

Jewell, based in Fort Smith, 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.

Mahalia said by email the project would ensure Jewell is supported at the Vancouver festival “with an assistant, training [and] an opportunity to connect with the local Indigenous community.”


“It’s a pretty surreal feeling,” said Jewell, who has not painted anything as large as the planned mural.

“I never thought that 13-year-old me, drawing in my bedroom, would have this happen.”

Jewell expects Vancouver’s unpredictable rain and heat to pose a challenge to her mural work.

So, she admitted, will her fear of heights.

“I have to get certified in the scissor lift and learn how to use it. I’m scared of heights, so I’ll have to figure out how to get over it and just focus,” she said.


Jewell hasn’t yet completed her plan for the mural but is excited to represent the North in her own style.

“I’m going to stylize it, so it’s not so obvious of green and purple Northern Lights,” she said. “It will be stylized in a way that is true to my style, but also represents the northern culture.”

The mural site is in the South Main neighbourhood of Vancouver, on a building that hosts a yoga studio and a Starbucks.

Jewell will travel to Vancouver in mid-June and stay there until the end of July.