‘It’s really powerful’: display outside Winnipeg high school honours lives lost to COVID-19

WINNIPEG — Students at a Winnipeg high school are paying tribute to the more than 1,000 Manitobans who have died with COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Outside of Gordon Bell High School, a memorial has been created with hearts being attached to the fence at the school. Students and staff could be seen Monday adding hearts to the fence.

Mirae Young, a visual arts teacher at the school, said the project was done in solidarity with Communities Not Cuts, which created a similar memorial along the Assiniboine River Trail during the winter and later moved to Memorial Street.

“It’s something that is really important to us,” Young said.

While they were putting up the hearts, Young said it gave the students a chance to think about what the pandemic meant to them.

“They are able to process that communal grief through creating these pieces,” she said. “It’s also a way for them to spread love and compassion to the community, and that in itself, really helped them to heal, and to send healing to others. It’s really powerful for a lot of our students.”

Vienna McManus, a Grade 11 student, contributed her heart to the wall.

“I felt I got to contribute to the community by placing a heart on the fence, and spreading positive words,” she said. “The message I wrote was, ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world.’”

Young said students are working on hearts at home while they’re completing remote learning. The school also has a large supply of hearts available for people in the community if they want to contribute to the display.

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