BLM mural a “first step”

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Town of Westville demonstrates ‘Black Lives Matter’

A bold new statement tells residents and visitors to Westville that the town is an inclusive community and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last week, town councillors and residents painted their own “Black Lives Matter” statement in yellow road paint on the sidewalk on North Main Street, in front of the cenotaph.

The project was one of the last items the former council passed before the recent municipal election. After being brought forth by citizens, council sat down with local BLM group members and discussed the project to make sure it was being done for the right reasons and with the right intentions in mind.

“The reason for us to do this is to recognize that racism is a part of our society,” said Mayor Lennie White, adding that this project is to combat that racism and systemic racism and “show people that the town does not support things of that nature.

“We want to do better,” he said. “It’s a first step, we hope to continue the process.”

Although the community came out to help paint the mural, the project was funded by the town and public works staff were on site to help with the stencils and painting. White shared that they would have liked to put the mural on the street as other cities and municipalities have done but there are already plans to do some road work to North Main Street in that area and they did not want to paint the mural only to tear it up and have to repaint it.

White also shared another step the town has started in combating systemic racism and bias: it has recently started blind screening practices for job positions where the person hiring for the new position only sees qualifications rather than names or any identifying information.

After a post from a member of the BLM Pictou County Facebook group, one of the founding members of the group, Jahleesa Borden became interested in the project and sat down with council to discuss the public art piece.

Borden shared that after meeting with the town the intent was to not only do something performative and public with the mural but to carry on the practices of confronting and ending racism within the town as well.

“I hope this is the start of something great,” Borden said.

Residents of Westville helped paint the new BLM Mural last week. (Brimicombe photo)