Vancouver, B. C.

School remembers murdered Jomar Lanot with mural

By Ted Alcuitas

Tupper Secondary marked the one year anniversary of the completion of the Jomar Lanot mural at its annual MultiFest on June 10 —a celebration of the school’s diversity with food, art, music, dance, and crafts.

“Culture is the root of our lives, and love is the most powerful force.”  This quote from the notebook of Mao Jomar Lanot features prominently in a 320’ long, 16’ high mural that covers a vast stretch of wall at Vancouver’s Tupper Secondary.

Lanot was the student killed 13 years ago by gang members around the corner of the building where the mural is now displayed. From this tragedy, the school and the neighbourhood came together to foster a greater sense of community and safety.

The mural is just one of the many initiatives the school and the community did to honour the memory of the Filipino youth whose death galvanized a whole community to rally around the issue of racism in schools.

Brothers Jomar, left, and Garnet. (Vancouver Sun, 2003)

Brothers Jomar, left, and Garnet. (Vancouver Sun, 2003)

Tupper’s greenway, healing garden and school code of conduct and now, the mural, were the result.

The 320- long mural was the idea of art teacher Cathy Kool who thought most of the staff and students did not understand the significance of the greenway.

“I thought we could use a mural to tell it and further beautify the public space.”
The actual painting of the mural took three months and was led by professional artists Brent Clowater and Jerry Whitehead. Tupper students however did a lot of the work.

“It energized the whole community,” Kool said.

The theme of the piece, developed with the kids, is rebirth. The narrative moves from left to right; night to day and back to night again. Clowater hopes the viewer sees growth, movement, multiculturalism and welcoming.

A central feature of the memorial greenway is a boulder with a passage written by Lanot etched on the rock. It reads: “Culture is the root of our lives; love is the most powerful force.”

Tupper secondary is in one of the city’s most racially diverse neighbourhoods. Students at the East Vancouver school come from 30 different cultural backgrounds.

As part of commemorating the memory of Jomar Lanot, the Kwantlen First Nation also presented a cedar log to Lanot’s mother, Jenna in a ceremony held at the school. A totem pole now stands in the school grounds.