Thanks to the efforts of one high school student, North Shore paramedics are now greeted every day by a cheery burst of colour in their otherwise grey bunker of a station.
A mural filled with flowers, waves, mountains, a cyclist, an ambulance, the Grouse Mountain gondola, the SeaBus and The Polygon Gallery is painted on a wall in the North Vancouver ambulance station at Lions Gate Hospital.
Makaila Ross, a Grade 11 student at Carson Graham Secondary, designed and did most of the brush work for the piece.
She wanted to show appreciation for front-line healthcare workers during the pandemic, and had the idea to make a mural. Her mother, Donna Mah, works for E-Comm 911 and got in touch with a contact at BC Emergency Health Services.
Mah said the idea developed after hearing about news stories about the paramedic staffing crisis in the province.
“This was the missing piece that we keep forgetting to show appreciation to the paramedics on the front line,” she said. “And so we thought it would be perfect.”
The North Vancouver station was chosen, and Ross started designing the piece after getting a grant from Youth Neighbourhood Small Grants.
Pointing to the mural behind her, Ross explained that a clock in the Lonsdale Quay “Q” at the bottom shows 7 p.m., the time when people would cheer for health-care workers. Coming from various windows across the piece are speech bubbles “showing appreciation from all over the world.”
Danny Jones, manager at BCEHS, said the mural brings a ray of sunshine.
“There is no sadness in it. And we needed that,” he said. “It was a tough two years for the paramedics. So it’s nice to just have a splash of good news to see every day in the morning.”
Randy Block, who’s been a paramedic in North Van for over 30 years, noted that it’s not just a beautiful work of art – it’s intelligent.
“Because that is the North Shore, perfectly summed up,” Block said. “We have no natural light down here, but we do have colour thanks to you, Makaila.”
Last summer, Ross worked on another mural for Studio in the City near Zestea bubble tea on Lonsdale Avenue. The piece at the ambulance station will go toward a Grade 12 art exhibit as part of her International Baccalaureate art program.