Onoway Mural Update

It’s been difficult to get much by the way of news updates. The media have run the first story, people have had their public debates and name-calling, but now what? I’ve seen nothing in the press or online.

Kaela Wilton’s controversial mural in its natural environment.

A quick recap. A 16-year-old student at Onoway Jr/Sr. High in the town of Onoway, Alberta received permission and then painted a mural on the school wall portraying two teenaged boys kissing. After about a week, the mural was covered as a consequence of student and parent complaints. Students tore down the cover, and then the school closed for the weekend, with very little resolved.

Fortunately, yesterday I heard a short  radio piece, including a few words from the school principal, James Trodden. No idea if this is the end of the story, but as I noted a couple of days ago, the principal is giving every indication that he is wisely protecting all his students’ interests, and is focused on keeping the school’s attention on studies, not on politics.

Mr. Trodden, I learned on the radio, has uncovered the mural for classes this week. He has spoken to those who expressed concern and is satisfied with the outcome of the discussion. Students were given a public space to write their thoughts on the issue, to seriously engage in the art and the complaints, and to discuss further action. Onoway School engaged in politics in a meaningful way. By being calm, by talking to all the people who have expressed an  emotional stake in the situation, calm and order have prevailed. He had to make a decision, and he chose to make it without conflict.

As I said in my earlier entry, based on all the evidence I’ve seen so far, James Trodden has done his job. And he’s done it wisely and well.

Kaela: I admire you for taking a stand, first for sexual minorities, and second for free expression for artists.

James: I admire you for your gentle diplomacy, and for your strength during a time of personal attack.


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