|Local artist Juliana Bedoya at Sunset Community Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday July 30, 2012, Bedova says who was hired to work with an adult education class at South Hill Education Centre on a community mural said she was terminated after raising concerns the teacher involved in the project was pushing a personal agenda against the Enbridge pipeline. (CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY)
VANCOUVER - A local graffiti artist has been dismissed from working with local students on a community mural project after raising concerns that a teacher involved was pushing a personal agenda against the Enbridge pipeline.
Juliana Bedoya said she’d been tasked to work with an adult education class at South Hill Education Centre on a massive outdoor graffiti moss mural but things went sideways when the class teacher shifted the project’s general environmental theme to a specific anti-pipeline campaign.
“The project ... wasn’t referring to one specific issue, it was really general,” Bedoya said Monday.
Bedoya said the group of 22 students — mostly ESL students ranging in age from teenagers to seniors — had come to a consensus that the mural at the Sunset Community Centre on Main Street would have an environmental theme, with the tag line “How green we are.”
Soon after, however, class teacher Amie Wolf shifted the agenda. When Bedoya resisted, she was dismissed from the project.
“How come you can come with your own personal agenda, with your own theme to a community process that was already generated legitimately from the community members?” Bedoya said, adding only two students had even heard of the pipeline. “How can you as an educator come up with a theme that is completely you?”
Wolf refused to comment when QMI Agency visited her at school, but in e-mail exchange with Bedoya said she stopped the project because the artist didn’t provide a completion timeline, an end goal or a contract.
Bedoya’s dismissal has raised concerns at the Vancouver School Board. Board Chair Patti Bacchus was notified about the issue on a QMI Agency blog.
“I don’t have all the details, but my general position is while I think it’s important for classes to discuss current issues and going over the pros and the cons, I do have concerns if a teacher’s own political perspective is imposed on students,” Bacchus in a phone interview Monday. “I think that’s where the line has to be drawn.”
Bedoya, who still has community funding for the project, hopes the students will still participate in the project outside of class.
-with files from Michael Mui