White Rock mosaic symbolizes country, community

Semiahmoo House Society project involved a broad spectrum of participants

Cutting the ribbon at the June 13 opening of the project were (left to right) mosaic designer Jasper Macabulous, Connie Glover, Semiahmoo House participant Mandi Nixon, executive director Doug Tennant, Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Fraser Valley Regional Library manager David Thiessen. (Neena Budial photo)

It’s a community art project that represents much more than the sum of its parts.

The collaborative project Pieced Together – Canada’s Mosaic – created by Semiahmoo House Society with a grant from the federal Community Fund for Canada’s 150th – was officially presented to the public at White Rock Library last week.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony June 15 drew together participants, designers, supervisors, managers, city staff, politicians and residents, who celebrated with speeches, coffee and slices of a cake that reproduced the mosaic design.

Given pride of place on the exterior library wall over the passageway leading down to the main library entrance, the eight- foot by five foot glass and ceramic tile mural combines elements of nature, wildlife, sports and culture within a colourfully-varied version of the Canadian flag.

Initiated by the society’s Personal Development Services, managed by Brianna Hopaluk, the project’s design was created by society support worker Jasper Macabulos.

Among many participants in piecing together the mosaic were clients of the society’s Acquired Brain Injury Services; personal development worker Tanya Spanbauer, who coordinated all the various client groups; plus members of the Seniors Come Share Society and their families, and also students from local elementary schools.

Ceramic and mosaic artist Connie Glover not only provided professional advice in overseeing the mosaic technique, but was also responsible for its final installation.

Glover paid tribute to the Semiahmoo House clients who “contributed a huge amount” to the mural.

“I was inspired by their focus and attitude, their dedication and commitment to the project,” she said.

Also involved were White Rock’s Recreation and Cultural Services, represented by director Eric Stepura and cultural development manager Claire Halpern, who were instrumental in finding the project a home on the Buena Vista Avenue library, a city-owned building housing the Fraser Valley Regional Library branch.

Semiahmoo House executive director Doug Tennant said that while the mosaic had been conceived as a project for the society’s clients, the intention had also been to “bring together the broadest community possible” and noted the symbolism of “different tiles coming together to create something beautiful.”

FVRL manager David Thiessen said the piece was “a beautiful work of art” that fit in well with the arts focus of the library.

“Enhancing White Rock’s arts and cultural tradition has been front and centre of many of our efforts,” he said.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted that the project was one of 1,700 applications that were approved across Canada to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation – and that the duration of creating it only served to extend that celebration.

“It’s not bad to be celebrating something from Canada’s 150th right now,” he said. “We tend to have these anniversaries and check them off and move on – but here we are months later still celebrating.”

Baldwin also pointed out that Macabulos is a new Canadian citizen, who emigrated from the Philippines five years ago.

“His work speaks to the mosaic of Canadian culture…it’s a great way for Jasper to have become involved and make his mark on the community.”

Macabulos, who attended with his wife Kristena, their four-year-old daughter Alesha, their two month-old son Ezekiel – and both his mother and mother-in-law, currently visiting from the Philippines – said creating the design had been suggested to him by Hopaluk since he is a keen hobby artist.

He added that he involved the Semiahmoo House client group he works with – The ‘A Team,’ which does ground maintenance for Peace Arch Hospital and other facilities – in the creative process.

He said that in informal discussions in the team’s truck, he received valuable input on everything that represented Canada to them, “from Don Cherry to toques.”

Macabulos said that, in searching for a way to summarize the project, the best description he could come up with was that it was a series of “bits and pieces” that have come together successfully to symbolize the nation as a whole.

“Every bit of tile has been pieced together by someone… a multitude of people can say ‘I’m a part of that’,” he said.

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