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July 27, 2021 at 7:41 PM

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Placemaking at Ross Park: celebrating Punjabi women through art

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Ross Park Mural

Two Vancouver-based artists— Sandeep Johal and new VPSN Board member Alyssa Martens —came together this spring to highlight and celebrate the presence and voices of older Punjabi women living in Sunset neighbourhood.

Earlier this year, Martens—who works as a writer and literary arts educator—facilitated a 20-week storytelling project with Punjabi women at the Moberly Arts & Culture Centre through Arts & Health. Muralist and visual artist Johal worked alongside to bring these women’s stories into the public realm through a new piece of public art at Ross Park. Community members participated in all aspects of the placemaking initiative.

The painting, and an upcoming literary publication, ਸਾਡੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਾਂ: Our Memories, unveil significant lived experiences these women have shared—from carefree childhood memories of village life in the Punjab to experiences of forming friendships and adapting to life on the West Coast of Canada.

Artists Sandeep Johal and Alyssa Martens at Ross Park.

Located at 57th and Khalsa Diwan Road in the Sunset neighbourhood, the painting at Ross Park is a short walk away from the Moberly Arts & Culture Centre and from many of the residences of the participating storytellers. In the South-West corner of the park, there is a small wading pool, surrounded by a bare concrete pad, now covered with a visual representation of the stories collected and developed in conversation with the participating women. Flanked by a playground and popular gathering pavilion, this location is an important and intergenerational community space, and the new vibrant painting reflects this atmosphere.

Be sure to stop by and check-out this vibrant new addition to Ross Park. For more information on the project, please contact Alyssa Martens at

The ਸਾਡੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਾਂ: Our Memories project was coordinated by Bryant Race with community assistance from Moberly Arts & Culture Centre and South Vancouver Neighbourhood House.

A big thank you to the project’s funders and partners: Vancouver Board of Parks and RecreationVancouver Coastal Health SMART FundSunset Community CentreMoberly Arts & Cultural CentreSouth Vancouver Neighbourhood House, City of Vancouver Neighbourhood Matching FundUniversity of British Columbia, and Neighbourhood Small Grants.

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