For Immediate Release
November 22, 2019


SAINT JOHN – The YMCA of Greater Saint John, in partnership with Aquila Tours, is marking Peace Week 2019 with the installation of a new, permanent mural in the city’s south end. This latest piece of public art features just some of the cultures found in the Saint John region.

The mural was designed by Soha Soltan, a member of the YMCA Newcomer Connections youth supports team. Soltan immigrated to Canada from Egypt in March 2018; while living in her home country and in the United Arab Emirates, Soltan worked as an art teacher and painted numerous murals throughout the community.

The YMCA invited nine young newcomers to help paint this project: Hazem Saad, Mariem Saad, Reem Alhamwi, Aya Ghadara, Youngeun Cho, Mary Avecilla, Abdikani Abdalla, Abdikarem Abdalla and Sumaya Abdalla. Under Soltan’s guidance, each youth was given a chance to work on a section of the mural, and add their own touches to this project. The Y hopes that by participating these young new Canadians will feel that Saint John can become a lasting and permanent home.

“It’s important that we work together to create peaceful communities where everyone feels that they belong” says Shilo Boucher, president and CEO at the YMCA of Greater Saint John. “By celebrating YMCA Peace Week together, we are taking a stand and creating the future we want for our community, country and world.”

The 32-foot mural is mounted on the Aquila office building at 10 St. James Street. Beth Kelly Hatt, founder of Aquila, is sorry that she is out of the country on this memorable day.

“For over 35 years, Aquila has supported community in our region and we are thrilled to support the YMCA in this endeavor commemorating community and peace,” she says. “Today, Aquila’s training around the world continues to focus on celebrating cultural diversity and inclusion and we hope this art mural can, like us, act as a bridge for cultural awareness.”

The cultures represented in the Peace Week mural cover the Middle East, East Asia, Africa, Europe and it also includes indigenous representation featuring traditional Mi’kmaq clothing.

More than the absence of violence and conflict, peace is the ongoing work of building and maintaining conditions of fairness, inclusion, empathy, security, and respect for diversity. Peace-building is core to the YMCA’s commitment to strengthening the foundation of healthy communities and part of the YMCA of Greater Saint John’s year-round programs.

When people act for peace, they build community by promoting a sense of belonging, fostering empathy and embracing diversity.

The YMCA of Greater Saint John is a charity dedicated to building healthy communities. We are committed to nurturing the potential of children, youth and families, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility within our community.

Newcomer Connections is a key pillar within the YMCA family. Established in 1993, Y Newcomer Connections is a leading immigrant settlement centre focused on creating connections that will transform our community into a lasting, healthy home for immigrants from around the world and all walks of life. Learn more online at www.ymcanewcomers.com.

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For further information, please contact:
Morgan Daye
Communications Coordinator
YMCA of Greater Saint John
m.daye@saintjohny.ca