Wayfinder Projects 

Michelle Loughery Wayfinder Programs are structured on employment skills and community engagement social skills, which are the number one missing link between skilled workers and the job market. Art trade based learning and partnerships will guide students directly into gaining essential skills and a bridge to jobs, further education or entrepreneurship. Part of this program also has students enrolled in, The, “Passport to Employment Program,” (created 2001) A Michelle Loughery Murals designed program that gives youth a life skill and employment sustainability plan to move forward to empower and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Leadership skills taught through the arts are what young people need most to be successful in life. Competition for jobs is fierce, and the current state of the world and economy require an ability to constantly adapt to change. Is the coming generation ready to face the realities of life after school? Education in the arts should not be reserved for the talented few, but promoted as the means for all children to develop skills in: creative thinking, confidence, problem-solving, accountability, relationship building, communication, adaptability and dreaming big.

Innovative service delivery models are needed in our schools to help at-risk youth, and to ameliorate family dysfunction so that children have an increased potential to learn. Our online learning offers connection to community-based agencies that provide prevention and intervention services. The mechanism of the safety of the wall and the sense of place in the community that is developed to form and implement these partnerships is youth driven and unique.




The Wayfinder Sunflower Mural Project

This project was started in 2013 during the painting of the Internment Mural in Vernon, BC. The success of the campaign was huge, and hundreds of seeds were planted and many sunflower paintings were inspired. The poem included, by Georgianna Moore, was a part of this inspiration. This project could provide the impetus for further conversation about internment, the importance of cultural history, human rights and social responsibility.


The sunflower represents many aspects of the past, and the present, thus making the anniversary campaign about hope and a national temporary art challenge, that speaks to the resilience of all the people of this country. This symbol is about the immigrant journey of yesterday and today. The bravery of the people who sought change and used agricultural skills to create a new life, and these skills are extremely relevant during this pandemic. As we walk with giants, this larger than life golden trail will lead in an act of faith and connection, for a better future and symbolizes a new beginning from old roots. 

- Michelle Loughery, Master Artist and her award-winning Wayfinder Program.

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... she brings out a letter. The letter was from the man that ran the Vernon Taxidermy store here in Vernon. A photo of the store was in my list to one I dreamed of painting in Vernon.


My mother's family is from Alberta and as we went through more papers it became apparent somethings did not make sense.

Michelle Loughery

Let me tell you a story. I am known for painting many historic murals! Coming to Vernon was a launch to a career that I would never imagine would help me give peace to a family history mystery.


I am also a history seeker and the photos of the interior of B.C. fascinate me. When my father died I was helping my mom go through papers, and she was retelling me the family story that her father had lost his brother,as he had run away and that my Guido had looked for him for decades.


The story was tragic and there was much shame she told me. Then she brings out a letter. The letter was from the man that ran the Vernon Taxidermy store here in Vernon. A photo of the store was in my list to one I dreamed of painting in Vernon. My mother's family is from Alberta and as we went through more papers it became apparent somethings did not make sense.


Then through another mural connection I met Andrea Malysh, the great granddaughter of people I painted on another mural,and the mystery was solved. My great uncle did not run away, he was interned in a Canadian Internment work camp.


I then learned that this story was much darker and deeper. I learned that my great grandfather was in the camps. And I learned of the hard life my great grandmother had as she tried to manage with her men locked in camps for no reason other than being from Ukraine.


The stories are heartbreaking. The effects on the family and the internee descendants of this time in history are hard to listen to. But through stories and art we can heal.


My mother who is interned again because of covid represents many internee descendants. She helped create the stamp that is widely used to support the fund that has been given the stewardship to tell all about this not so proud part of Canadian History.


What is in your past is your roots, but what is in your future is in the seeds of hope you sow.


I have the honour of being the internee representative on the Canadian World War One Internment Recognition Fund.


June 20th, 2020 marks 100 years of freedom for my mothers people is part of an upcoming anniversary of the freedom of the Austro European immigrants in Canada who lost their freedoms after being invited to come buy land by the Canadian Government.


My family was one of those families that was interned. This history has left scars in my roots. It is ironic that my mom, as many others that are internee descendants as well, are living their golden years interned again.


100 years later, Covid has brought us the gift to stand in the place of lost freedoms and lost voices together. I wish I could give my Guido the peace and pride he would have gotten from knowing this. The shame of the treatment for being from Ukraine permeated his soul. He did not know that the story was not of failure but of rights taken.


Please plant a sunflower in honour of anyone past, present who has stood in this place. The sunflowers can symbolize all those that built our infrastructure on the face of lost freedoms. Please plant a sunflower in honour of all nationalities for the June 20th 2020 anniversary of freedom. 

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Ryan Boyko

My chief aim in creating the “Camps” and ultimately the film “That Never Happened: Canada’s First National Internment Operations” was to honour the innocent men, women and children who were treated unjustly over a century ago, and all those who have suffered the ripple effects since. 


I thought it was important to tell the story of each camp in a unique way with a beginning, middle and end so that people could really understand and feel what it was like for prisoners of these camps using memory and an oral History, sharing the stories of those who were affected by the internment camps generations later.

When I first started making this project, I thought I was making a Historical Documentary relevant to a few ethnic communities in Canada. I had no idea how incredibly relevant it would be today, not just in Canada but around the world! In these times of  “alternative facts”, xenophobia and talk of registering undesirable “others”, this film has now become an urgent call to those who could easily repeat the mistakes of the past. This film aims to cultivate empathy in the place of fear. 


“That Never Happened" was selected by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations to screen as Canada’s contribution to the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Speaking at the United Nations on behalf of those interned and discussing the multi-generational effects was far beyond the possibilities that I had imagined when creating this film.  My new hope is that every Canadian will learn about, and recognize this History through my work and the work of others and I truly hope that all members of every community affected by WW1 Internment will take the time to watch this film. Ryan Boyko

The Camps Season 1
Episode 2 of 17 - Vernon, BC



Glenda Kohse’s uncle spent the first 6 years of his life behind barbed wire. Award Winning Mural Artist and Art Educator, Michelle Loughery speaks about the importance of Art in remembering history.

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