MSF and MU unveil new mural shining a light on forced migration
Today, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) unveiled a new mural shining a light on forced migration. Created in partnership with the charitable organization MU, the mural is in the heart of the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, one of the most densely populated and ethnically diverse neighbourhoods in Canada. The mural design was created by artist Dan Buller and is complemented by words from Indian Canadian poet and #1 New York Times bestselling author Rupi Kaur.
The work explores the theme of forced migration and the treacherous journeys many people undertake in search of safety and finding home elsewhere. Entitled Finding Home Again, at the heart of this mural is our joint solidarity with the more than 80 million people on the move today and what they overcome in their search for home again.
“Through our work, we witness how difficult – if not impossible – it is for people on the move to access medical care, adequate shelter, clean water or other essential needs,” says Joseph Belliveau, executive director of MSF Canada. “MSF hopes to help build awareness and solidarity among Canadians about the needs and the inspiring resilience of people on the move globally because of conflict, insecurity, disasters, and climate change. Creating this public art piece as a collaboration is part of its strength and its message.”
The mural design features a woman with an expression of courage and conviction on her face. Her daughter’s feet are entwined in the roots she seeks to plant in a safe and quiet place. The migrating monarch butterflies are a reminder that climate change is one of the main factors increasing forced displacement. The mural is complemented by the poem “immigrant,” by poet Rupi Kaur, who generously collaborated with MSF to include her words in the visually powerful artwork created by muralist Dan Buller.
“My poem ‘immigrant’ was first inspired by my family’s experience having to leave their home because of the 1984 Sikh genocide committed by the Indian state. I felt impelled to create poetry that would memorialize the atrocities our community faced. Political activism was an integral part of my upbringing– joining local protests with my dad from a very young age. It naturally shaped my passion and writing. Collaborating on this mural with MSF, and Dan Buller, is an incredible example of how art and activism intersect and empower one another. It has been an honor to take part in this movement with MSF, supporting those who have been forcibly displaced to find safety and community again.” – says Kaur
Buller designed his work as a tribute to the people who come to Montreal in search of a new home and a sense of belonging, Quebec and Canada having always been a safe haven for people who are displaced. He seeks to depict the determination, dignity and hope of those who bear the burden of being lost or uprooted.
The inauguration takes place in the presence of the mayor of the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, Gracia Kasoki Katahwa; artist Dan Buller; Montreal-based poet, writer and spoken word artist Nella Tētam; community liaison officer for immigrant support organization PROMIS, Maria Marcela Vega; and MSF’s former international president, Dr. Joanne Liu.
“Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is a home base for people from all over the world, and one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the country. This beautiful mural could not be timelier. It reminds us of both our richness and our responsibilities as a welcoming place,” said the borough’s mayor, Mrs. Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâces.
About artist Dan Buller
Dan Buller is a Montreal-based muralist. He is a founding member of Heavyweight Art Installation, a group of artists who have travelled throughout the United States and Canada creating live art installations. In 2008, he participated in the collective exhibition “Manifest Hope,” organized by Shepard Fairey, in support of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. His work has been featured in group exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Montreal.
About Rupi Kaur
A breakout literary phenomenon, Rupi wrote, illustrated, and self-published her first poetry collection and #1 New York Times bestseller, “milk and honey” as a young 21-year-old university student. Her second collection, “the sun and her flowers,” also rose to the top of best-seller lists including Amazon and The New York Times. Her collections have sold over 11 million copies and have been translated into more than 42 languages, surpassing The Odyssey as the best-selling poetry. Her successes have earned Rupi a place on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list recognizing young leaders in their industries. Her latest collection of poetry, “home body,” also debuted at the top of best seller lists around the world, cementing her status as a world-renowned poet. Inspired by the themes of “milk and honey,” her latest and fourth book “Healing Through Words” has also become a best seller in the United States and Canada. As she has done from the very beginning, Rupi self-produced Rupi Kaur Live, the first poetry special of its kind, which debuted on Amazon Prime Video in 2021. Currently Rupi is on a global spoken word tour, performing her poetry across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the UK, Europe, and more. Intertwined with visuals, music, comedy, and anecdotes, Rupi performs her classic poems and unpublished pieces, tailoring each show to the city she visits. Rupi’s work touches on love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. She feels most at home when creating art, performing her poetry onstage, and spending time with family and friends.