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Innisfail's 'Welcome' mural promotes joy, inclusivity in central Alberta town

Stenciled onto the side of one of Innisfail's most historic sites is the word "Welcome" in 60 different languages. It's part of a new mural that brings colour and joy to the town located about 120 kilometres north of Calgary.

"It is heartwarming and, to me, very exciting to see," said Pat Bidart, a member of the town's Welcoming and Inclusive Community Committee (WICC).

"I will share it with all my friends around the world to show this is what our community is about."

Calgary artist Karen Scarlett, who grew up in Innisfail, helped come up with the concept to collect the handwriting of community members writing "welcome" in a language that represents their own heritage. It took a month to complete the project. 

"When we were doing the stencil-making and talking about languages and cultures, it was really incredible to hear so many people's stories about how their family came to Innisfail and how they celebrate," said Scarlett. 

The mural also features bright dairy cans representing the history of the building.

The wall of what is now The Coffee Cottage and Old Creamery Antiques served as the canvas for the art. The site is Innisfail's original creamery, which has served as a community gathering place for nearly a century. 

Bidart says the mural is part of the town's effort to promote multiculturalism and to show racism has no place in Innisfail. She pointed to a June 2020 Black Lives Matter rally in town that was nearly cancelled after organizers faced a barrage of racist comments and threats as being a catalyst for the creation of the WICC.

"Innisfail got a lot of bad press. Everybody had this feeling that it was a racist community because of some of the people that did things. So a group of us got together to say 'We're not like that, Innisfail is not like that'," explained Bidart. 

The mural was funded in part by the province of Alberta. The town's public art push includes another mural, completed earlier this summer, and a third planned for later this year. Top Stories

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