In turning away the Behind the Mask public art project, what have we told those people who so courageously shared their stories and art?
If you watch the very moving documentary, you’ll see these Vernon individuals have overcome great obstacles and that this chance to shine a light on their story brought great joy.
What have we told our young people about how our society cares for those with mental health challenges?
And the art they may want to make to find their way through it?
What have we told our community about democratic processes, when the council: 1) approved the project, 2) reneged and demanded a public consultation without providing resources or parameters, 3) disregarded the results of a public consultation and instead pointed to an online survey populated by a vocal minority, many of whom do not live here and did not even see the actual photographs that would become the murals.
What have we told the future doctors and nurses and social workers and tech professionals considering a community in the Okanagan about how open-minded and invested in culture we are?
They will search ‘Vernon’ and learn about this.
What have we told our businesses who rely on tourism? Our children? Our artists?
I hope we all think about this, and I hope the mayor and council who let this happen learn something from this shameful situation. I hope the smart, open-minded community that wants to embrace these murals experiences ripples of benefits for many years to come.