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Make It Happen! – Those were the words of Avery Rueb that chimed through the ears of two students who aspired to bring other students together in a social-distanced society. From chanting their motto to sketching designs and prototypes; meeting with academic and non-academic staff for feedback, the vacillating nature of their project made ‘giving up’ palatable.

Some may call it a coincidence and while others call it fate. But whatever it was, it brought two students together. They were the only attendees of the online make-up session for LaunchBox (a competition that awards students who create innovative projects that contribute to their school community). Yun Lei Lin, who pitched in the idea of a mural, and Joy Bello-Osagie, instantly ecstatic upon hearing her request for an artist’s opinion of her idea—it was the perfect storm.

Our project kicked off halfway through the 2021 fall semester, and thanks to the laid-back nature of LaunchBox, we had a slow and steady start with a bright hue of enthusiasm. Avery Rueb (LaunchBox organizer) and Ashley Rankin (learning specialist) organized info sessions to help us prepare for the upcoming poster competition and Demo-day. Sharing our idea with the rest of the Vanier community was nerve-wracking. We had to mentally prepare for all types of feedback ranging from positive to constructive. 

Fortunately, we won first place and audience favourite for the poster competition and 2nd place for Demo-day!

The positive feedback we received greatly outweighed the negative. And the constructive criticism from the judges helped push our project forward.

Although we just made a breakthrough, this was simply the genesis.

Our project would not have sailed as smoothly as it did without Kristen Whitelaw (a staff affiliated with Vanier Student Life).  

Coincidentally, Kristen Whitelaw had the same idea of painting murals! So, we reached out to her, and we collectively decided to collaborate. Then, she walked us through the technical aspects of drafting a proposal for the board of directors and the Ministry of Education. 

We constantly had to remind ourselves of the sole aim of our project—bringing students together and forming a community. We creatively formulated ways to grasp our audience and involved them by hosting a competition. We announced the competition on our Instagram (@vaniermuralists 😉 as we called for students from all programs to send ideas and designs that fit the themes of our project: Biology and inclusivity.

After receiving a handful of designs, Yun Lei and I felt it was fair and necessary to let the students and staff vote for their favourite design. With a response from over 80 people (strictly from staff and students), the final designers were Kaela Ftaich (inclusivity theme) and Yun Lei and Joy (Biology theme). After a short series of going back and forth in the sense of changing some parts of the design and the location for where they would be painted (4th floor, A building & C stairwell between the 1st and 2nd floor), our project was approved by the teachers from the biology department as well as the board of directors!

As science students, we decided to brighten the biology department, hence its theme, and Kristen Whitelaw decided that a theme revolving around inclusivity was the perfect depiction of Vanier College.

We held a deep sigh of relief as we overcame the technical aspect of our project. Now, the work starts—we organized a zoom workshop over March break with Jason Botkin (a famed muralist who has created over 200 murals) to give us tricks and tips as we painted. With the help of volunteers and the provision of materials from Student life, we finished painting two weeks after the break.

Although our project started as scribbles of designs and countless meetings, writing this reflection highlights the beauty of hard work and perseverance. We are so grateful for the tremendous amount of love and support our project has received. From the academic and non-academic staff, students and institutions such as Forces Avenir. We made it happen.

Honourable mentions; Avery Rueb, Ashley Rankin, Kristen Whitelaw, Ouranima Zafiri, Jason Botkin, Kaela Ftaich, Karina Melo, Jewel Gonzales, Mariem Mohamed, Béatrice Pelletier, Maria Laouina, Charlie Lees, Tae Ly, Sidra Hamed, Jasmin Reginales, Camelia Idinarene, Setayesh Abbasi Moghadam, Rebecca Eapen, Kira Tadj, Kavya Katariya Samuel Cano-Gallo

Yun Lei Lin & Joy Bello-Osagie

Vanier’s Muralists


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