In the early 1900s they fought for women’s rights. Now they’re helping to deter graffiti vandalism in Edmonton.
A mural of Canada’s Famous Five—Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, and Louise McKinney—was unveiled in Edmonton last week as part of a program to discourage graffiti through wall art.
Widely known for winning the right for women to be declared as “persons” eligible to sit in the Senate, the Famous Five were a group of trail-blazers from Alberta who helped improve economic, social, and political equality for Canadian women.
Making murals here and in other cities has been shown to deter graffiti vandalism.
— Sharon Chapman, Capital City Clean-up
The mural is the eighth piece in the Giants of Edmonton series, which depicts those who have contributed to the local community.
“These women changed the course of history in Canada, so in our view, coming from Edmonton and being from here, it was really important that we recognize them as giants in our community,” says Sharon Chapman, graffiti project manager with Capital City Clean-up.
Started in 2008, the Capital City Clean-up program has been a resounding success, with graffiti rates down 43 percent since 2010, according to figures from the city.
The innovative program was created to address concerns from communities that the amount of graffiti in Edmonton was “getting out of hand,” Chapman explains.
“Making murals here and in other cities has been shown to deter graffiti vandalism,” she says. “Graffiti taggers have a tendency to stay away from other forms of art. It’s not a guarantee, but it does help us beautify the city and at the same time deter the vandalism.”
Chapman says the program’s success has spawned another local community mural program, where non-profit community groups can apply for up to $2,000 funding to put up murals in their neighbourhoods. This has led to the creation of an additional 20 murals around Edmonton.
As well as members of the local military and various volunteers, the Giants of Edmonton series also features community outreach worker Hope Hunter, Kevin Martin’s Olympic curling team, influential leader Lois E Hole, and even the city’s aesthetic River Valley.
Chapman says the murals benefit the community by inspiring the public with depictions of local role models.
“They recognize the contributions that various Edmontonians have made. By honouring [the giants] we show not only that we can deter graffiti vandalism and beautify the city, but it can serve as an inspiration to become involved in Edmonton.”
Aside from graffiti programs, the Capital City Clean-up initiative also includes community and team-building exercises, litter management and safe needle disposal programs, volunteer opportunities, and fundraising events.
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