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Exterior of Innisfail Legion will sprout poppies as part of community mural project

Bringing people together through the collaborative effort is a main goal: organizer
Community members lend a hand in applying some background paint to kick-start a mural project at the Innisfail Legion. It will eventually feature large poppies. (Contributed photo)

The Innisfail Legion, with one of the largest memberships in the country, is about to get an eye-catchingly artistic exterior.

Local artist and entrepreneur Karen Scarlett is launching her latest community collaboration/ town-improvement project that will entail painting poppies on seven panels around the exterior walls of the Legion building.

Anyone interested is invited to be part of this transformation, so a few dozen community members gathered earlier this week to start a project that’s expected to take a couple of months to finish.

While a professional crew could finish the murals in shorter order, Scarlett said this effort is not about speed, but about “connection, joy and community.”

Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 104 in Innisfail, which has the third largest membership in the country, with over 1,400 members, started fundraising for the art project last fall.

President Stephen Black believes it will create a lasting legacy. “Adding a mural to our facade helps honour our past, our veterans and their families, but also gives a nod to a bright future,” said Black, who anticipates the result will help attract visitors “and invite people to share stories about why the Legion is an important part of our community.”

Scarlett believes the 22,000 square-foot Innisfail Legion building will provide “an ideal canvas” for a project that represents the community and its dedication to veterans. The large painted poppies will have “special impact,” she added, since poppies are a symbol of remembrance, as well as the legion’s annual campaign that helps support veterans and families in need.

Scarlett has led several such artistic efforts since moving back to her hometown of Innisfail last year, after working in Red Deer, Calgary and New York City. Last summer, she led the Innisfail Welcoming and Inclusive Community Committee’s (IWICC) mural that was painted on the walls of the Coffee Cottage. More than 250 Innisfail residents helped out.

Earlier this year, Scarlett launched another local effort — the Community Heart BOMB project. Crocheted hearts were used to decorate a wire fence and show love for patients in the nearby hospital and seniors’ home.

Innisfail town councilor Jason Heistad said, “Karen has brought a great community spirit to Innisfail with her art installations over the last year and we are excited to support new ideas that come forward to help make our town more welcoming and inclusive.”

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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