North Vancouver recognizes youth through public art

City of North Vancouver turns to art installations to celebrate Youth Week in place of an in-person event


By Breanne Doyle

The City of North Vancouver is determined to celebrate youth this spring after cancelling all public events in the face of COVID-19 last year.

In a typical year, the city’s annual Youth Week, held the first week of May, is celebrated with events such as sports, musical performances, movie nights and the Civic Youth Awards. Recipients of these awards are invited to a certificate ceremony and reception at City Hall.

Last year, all plans to celebrate Youth Week were cancelled. Although Civic Youth Award winners still got their certificate and prizes, they were delivered in the mail and winners were not able to meet in person.

Due to COVID-19, the Youth Award ceremony cannot take place at City Hall as it typically does. (Photo: Breanne Doyle.)

This year, Leah Herman, the coordinator of community development for the City of North Vancouver, is resolved to have a celebration to recognize youth even if they can’t get together in person. “How do we work within the current climate to really celebrate youth?” asked Herman. “To me, it’s through activation projects.”

Herman is planning pop-up art installations to be displayed across the Lonsdale and the Shipyards area to celebrate youth. There is also a mural project run by youth-led program Youth Unlimited set to begin in April.

According to Herman: “City youth will be onsite at the Shipyards over spring break and during Youth Week painting mini murals in a fenced off but highly visual area – the mini murals will celebrate themes of youth, connection and city pride. This will be a passive activation in that people who fill this popular space will take notice and see youth engaged in the work, ask questions and connect in a safe way as opposed to a youth ‘event.'”

Herman hopes the art installations will be “a nice way to still feel connected and engaged but not gather.”

Erica Phil, a muralist, was one artist involved in the art activation projects that North Vancouver has been promoting throughout the past year. (Photo: Phil Phil Studio Instagram)

A mural project presented by CityFest

Andrew Chong, a full-time youth outreach director with Youth Unlimited: North Shore, has been volunteering for Youth Week through CityFest for eight years.

CityFest is a one-day festival which, according to its website, is “run by youth, for youth.” It has been included in the Youth Week festivities of the City of North Vancouver every year since 2002. Last year, CityFest at Home was announced as a way to engage with the youth of North Vancouver through photo and video contests and Instagram challenges.

This year, CityFest is planning a mural. “We plan to hire an artist to build the main idea and have youth physically and safely join in to participate in the painting of it,” Chong said.

Chong hopes that in creating the mural, CityFest will “bring some real hope and light to our city.”

Finding joy in recognition

Herman said because of the pandemic and social distancing, projects acknowledging youth are important.

“To be recognized, included, and heard is so impactful for everyone, but especially [for] youth,” Herman said.

Liam Sturgess, was among one of the two youths awarded the Kind Heart Award last year. He, like the other winners, received his award by mail.

Liam Sturgess, one of the 33 winners of last year’s Civic Youth Awards, says recognizing youths in the time of COVID-19 is extremely important. (Photo: Provided by Liam Sturgess.)

After a particularly rough year, Sturgess says receiving the award in the mail and not in person felt “sort of poetic.”

Sturgess says even though he did not have the in-person experience he hoped for, that the awards are a “powerful way” to boost morale in the youth of the city.

“Even though the world was drastically changing, we [can] still take a moment to be thankful for our successes and joys from the past while we prepare for the uncertain future.”

If you know of someone in North Vancouver between the ages of 10 and 24 and are interested in nominating them for a Civic Youth Award, the deadline is tomorrow (Fri., March 12) at 5pm.


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