Social justice mural towers in KPU Surrey library

Thu, Mar 9, 2023

It is a colourful mural with a woman in the centre holding a golden feather with a well-known red hand across her face and fists coming up through the bottom. A drum fills the centre of the mural with the peaks of the Ch'ich'iyúy Elxwíkn (two sisters in the Squamish language Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim), otherwise known as the Lions, emerging from the horizon. 

“The legacy mural will rise up to welcome anyone who passes through the library's main atrium,” says Greg Chan, KDocsFF community outreach director.

The mural is designed and created by three international artists and now lives in the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) library at the Surrey campus. Brandon Gabriel, Desi Mundo and Pancho Pescador met at KDocsFF 2022, Metro Vancouver's Premier Social Justice Festival, as panelists for the documentary Alice Street. 

“The topics are broad – we’re featuring Kat Norris [Coast Salish Advocate] as the centrepiece with a red palm to her face. The themes include missing and murdered women, the environment…we wanted to personify social justice for Indigenous peoples,” says Gabriel, a KPU artist-in-residence. 

“That’s what is powerful about this piece. We are representing people who did not ask for permission, who stood up for their identities, and representing not just the Indigenous tradition but also the rider traditions,” adds Mundo, referring to train graffiti culture.

“I think it’s exciting, it’s great. Us muralists – we work with different topics and different communities. For me it’s humbling to come here and learn about the culture and the heroes,” says Pescador. 

Pescador is originally from Santiago de Chile and now resides in Oakland, California. A self-taught visual artist, muralist, and music lover, he combines these disciplines to activate critical and imaginative thinking. 

Gabriel was born and raised on the Kwantlen First Nation Reserve in Fort Langley. He is also a KPU alumnus whose work has been exhibited across the world. 

Mundo is an Oakland-based aerosol artist whose work has been shown at DePaul University, St. George Art Museum, and the Block Museum at Northwestern University. He is also the founder of the Community Rejuvenation Project, which is responsible for over 300 murals throughout the Bay Area and internationally. He also served as the cultural ambassador to Egypt in 2017 and will serve in Chile in August. 

The mural is over 10 feet wide and approximately 25 feet tall. It is now on display at the KPU Surrey campus library. 

Legacy mural