‘A unique story for Oshawa’: Mural aims to spark revitalization in city’s downtown

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A new mural in downtown Oshawa is hoping to generate conversation around the city’s current identity and how it could be expanded beyond its automotive presence in an effort to create a greener, more sustainable future.

“Oshawa doesn’t really have an identity if we remove the cars from the identity, what are we going to be?” said Oshawa muralist Chad Tyson, whose organization The Signs of Life Mural Project was behind the project.

The organization aims to add vibrancy to communities across the region through painting murals. Tyson worked with Greater Toronto Area muralist Bruno Smoky to bring the 75-by-40-foot Simcoe Street wall to life.

Non-coincidentally, the wall sits right next to the city’s automotive museum. Among its numerous elements, it showcases Green Jobs Oshawa, a group of General Motors workers who have been fighting to create green, sustainable careers in the city ever since GM announced it was closing in 2018, though the company has since announced its plans to reopen the plant.

“To me the mural is in motion and it recognizes that transformation is an active process, and that involves struggle and fighting for what we believe in,” said Rebecca Keetch, an organizer with Green Jobs Oshawa.

“It really tells a unique story for Oshawa.”

The wall also features the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who Keetch says has been supporting the group’s mission.

The mural has also drawn the attention of School for Climate, a GTA climate change campaign aiming to create awareness through murals. The company collaborated with Tyson and Smoky to highlight the need for revitalization.

“(Green Jobs Oshawa) vision of the direction the plant can go and the role the workers can play in helping facilitate this growth and re-branding and revitalization for the communities out here is incredible,” said founder Andre Forsythe.

The artists were able to complete the mural in roughly one week. The ultimate goal of the project is to bring more foot traffic to this part of the city, while creating vibrancy in the area.