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Community concerned about BLM mural in Chinatown

Jae Sterling says he’s open to suggestions for his Black Lives Matter mural

Residents of Calgary’s Chinatown are disappointed that they were not given a chance to provide input on a new Black Lives Matter mural, reports CTV News.

Artist Jae Sterling has already begun working on the mural titled The Guide & Protector, located across the street from the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre. The mural is privately funded with no involvement from the city.

Critics say that the project was put into action suddenly with little time taken to consult members of the Chinese community.

Dale Lee Kwong, an advocate of the Chinese community, said that Chinatown is “kind of like being in a Chinese version of Heritage Park, so if you could imagine that mural just being plunked down at Heritage Park, it doesn’t make sense.”

Others noted that the mural seemed to have no relation to Chinatown or the Chinese community.

“A mural that doesn’t have any connection to the Chinese community, I have to say I’m disappointed,” Tony Wong, president of the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, told Global News.

“In this particular case it was literally one step out of place by painting the backdrop the day before the public consultation and then not having the chance to speak to the artists to say, ‘Hey, how does this work and how does our culture fit into this equation,’ so it is a bit disappointing,” added Terry Wong, executive director of the Calgary Chinatown Business Improvement Area.

Community leaders say that they have no problem with a Black Lives Matter mural but would like to see more engagement with the local Chinese community.

“It’s not that the Chinese community is anti-Black, there is a relationship we’ve had with the Black community but the mural itself doesn’t say that at all,” said Kwong. “It was intended for someplace else, if they had actually had the artist speak to the Chinese community, take our design into consideration, maybe a frame of bamboo around.”

Terry Wong also stated that the mural should be more inclusive of Chinatown’s heritage. He suggested that the artist consider incorporating the relationship between the Black and Chinese communities into the mural.

“This is one Chinatown for everyone,” he said.

Although he is adamant about completing a Black Lives Matter mural in the city, Sterling says he is open to further discussion.

“I’m open to any kind of suggestion,” he said. “If it’s a good idea, why not?”

Sterling hopes to finish the mural by the end of September.

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