The indigenous woman in the Syilx mural in downtown Vernon was defaced with a swastika and a supposed-replica of Adolf Hitler’s mustache on Sunday.
Artists Michelle Loughery and Sheldon Louis said they were both unsettled by the disrespect the action imposed.
Though this isn’t the first time that Loughery’s work was defaced with a swastika, she said that it is a rare occurrence.
“I feel bad for this person. I can’t imagine how they feel inside to be able to do something like that,” said Loughery.
Louis posted photos of the defacement on Facebook, along with a photo of another mural of an indigenous woman that was defaced with a black tear coming out of her eye.
“This is disheartening and frustrating that people would feel the need or the urge to vandalize a piece of artwork,” Louis wrote on Facebook.
Louis’ great, great grandfather Pierre is also in the mural next to the defaced woman, which added to the personal hit that the defacement brought on.
The graffiti was tagged as “Cody Balls”, which gave Louis the chance to post this important piece of information in case the signature is repeated.
“I’d like the opportunity to have a conversation with this person about the importance of art and culture in our communities,” Louis wrote.
The Downtown Vernon Association was contacted immediately so the mural could be as fresh as new before the week ends said Loughery.
“As soon as they wash the ink off, I’ll be down there doing my part,” Loughery said.
Louis said that the woman in the Syilx mural is intended to represent the leadership, strength, and beauty of the Okanagan Indian Band history.
“It’s an unforgettable, discriminating hate-crime,” Loughery said.
The mural was painted in 2001, and Loughery said the experience of working with Louis taught her a great-deal on the Okanagan land and his culture.
“Most people do respect the art, so I wonder about the others who do this,” said Loughery.