May 3, 2016
Letter of Support for “Route Blue”
Submitted on behalf of Michelle Loughery – Project Founder & Facilitator for the Route Blue Initiative
I am writing to you to support Michelle Loughery’s vision of ‘Route Blue’ as being a tourism draw to blend an international community as a tribute to celebrating Canada’s 150th Milestone. Together, Michelle & I share a passion to tell our story of our inclusive cultural & social commonalities by joining together our first nations & immigrants of all ethnicities, to move forward in economic stability by a cross-border reach.
In the spirit of a shared vision, Michelle’s ‘Route Blue’ initiative holds a key to showcase our history through the continuation of the braided trails that connect us. The words inscribed in the frieze within the Peach Arch monument located at the international border reads “Children of a Common Mother”. Building an international community through an extension of “The Mother Road” (a highway that symbolizes & embodies our shared heritage) that reflects a special bond with the Route Blue initiative. Route Blue celebrates equality by forming a circle with no corners to draw economic development and a marketing platform on an international scale moving forward.
Within the fold of our heritage spaces lies the Historic O’Keefe Ranch standing guard as a pillar to tell our unique stories and preserve noble landmark locations that reflect our legacy. Following the path of the Okanagan Trail, the O’Keefe ranchers drove cattle along the Oregon Treaty Route (est. 1846) supporting the demands of this burgeoning region during the gold rush era that contributed significantly to the development of BC as a province in the Dominion of Canada. The impact of cross-border influence is paramount to the vestiges of public art, music, culture and digitalizing of our history.
As water flows beyond borders in a natural passage, ‘Route Blue’ symbolizes the spirit of the horse, building a vibrant international community & transportation corridor.
In closing, our history speaks through a land of braided trails that extends beyond borders moving in the “Spirit of the Horse on Route Blue”…
70 Mile House, BC
Situated in the Heart of the Historic Cariboo Gold Rush Highway
CCMA HALL OF FAME…has said..The Merritt Youth Mural Project has offered many of the youth in the community a tremendous opportunity to develop life skills training and in many cases, move on to full time careers. Commissioned by world-renowned muralist, Michelle Loughery, founder of the Wayfinder Project. Not only has the program served to enrich our society, but it has helped to transform Merritt into the largest country music art gallery you’ll ever visit. A visit to Merritt and you’ll find ample opportunity to pose in front of larger than life murals or your favorite country artists.
For one local artist the mural project is a dream come true.
When Michelle Loughery came to paint her first mural in Merritt she arrived without an assistant. Her plan was to pick up someone in town who was interested in learning the trade. That is exactly what she did and it has worked out to be the perfect relationship in so many ways.
Merritt resident Bobbi Jackson accepted Loughery’s challenge and has been with her ever since.
“I never thought I would ever paint on the side of a building,” said the aspiring artist. “I met Michelle and everything fell into place and I have been learning from her ever since.”
Jackson grew up in Merritt. Through high school she took a number of art-related classes and even went on to take a few fine arts classes at UCC. Jackson always knew she wanted to make her love of art into a career, Loughery has given her that chance.
Loughery was amazed with how well she and Jackson work together.
“She’s great and has the same hunger as I do,” she said. “I find the parallel between us interesting.”
Loughery said painting the side of a building takes a lot of dedication, long hours and hard work. She was happy to find that in Jackson.
“We would be out in the cold and we both just understand that we would continue until we were done,” Loughery added.
“This just feels exactly right. Working with Michelle has really grounded me,” Jackson said. “Michelle coming into my life when she did was the greatest thing.”
Jackson believes she owes a lot to the City of Merritt for giving her this opportunity.
“I find it very symbolic that I am leaving a legacy behind in my hometown,” she explained. “I am helping save my hometown and that means a lot to me.”
Jackson said it is a little disappointing that people do not see the murals as a local project. To her it doesn’t matter whether they are painted by someone local or by Loughery. What matters is that soon the town will be recognized globally for the murals and the stories they tell. Jackson added it is a bonus as a Merrittonian that she gets to be a part of such an important project.
The painting does not stop when Loughery leaves Merritt. Jackson has been staying with her in Vernon to work on a mural there. In the spring they will travel together to New York to paint a mural in the Big Apple. From there they are probably on to Scotland and Australia. During all this globe trotting Jackson is learning a trade she believes will keep her busy as long as she wants to keep painting.
Loughery predicts that, with the talent Jackson possesses, within two years Jackson will be able to paint a mural of her own on the streets where she played as a kid. MERRITT HERALD 2004 Dec 29