Graffiti artist Vince Dumoulin made his way from Montreal to the West Coast jumping on freight trains and engaging in petty crimes along the way. By the time the young drifter arrived in Vancouver, run-ins with the law were an almost daily occurrence. Facing an uncertain future, a chance encounter with a police officer changed his life.
The officer took notice of Dumoulin's work and encouraged him to pursue his art. It led him to Restart, a City of Vancouver restorative-justice program initiated by the Vancouver Police Department. The volunteer-driven program provided supplies and a legitimate public space for kids caught tagging to paint. Working with a mentor, teams created murals all over the city.
Dumoulin's talent can be seen on building walls, in hotels and at local galleries. Dumoulin was recently appointed to the City's Urban Design Panel and, along with Sean Kirkham, founded the Canadian Foundation for Creative Development and Innovation (CFCDI), a non-profit the two hope will act as a springboard for their humanitarian-driven creative projects.
Their first initiative, the Living Memorial Stones Art Project at the Trench Gallery, includes 26 bronze plaques erected in memory of the slain women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Each plaque bears a woman's name, date of birth and the word "MURDERED."
Why is this memorial important?
The families of the victims have had so much pain, but also, had so much BS to deal with especially in regards to the inquiry. It's time for them to find some harmony; we know they won't find peace, or closure, ever.
Biggest success? Getting to the realization that I'm happy where I'm at, and I don't have that annoying feeling that I must succeed more and more to feel good.
Biggest setback? I can't come up with an answer to that. Setbacks are such great learning experiences. The worst events bring the best out of people.
Why do you mentor atrisk youth?
Youth have experiences- many leading to negative actions and destructive behaviour. Many of which are completely justified, i.e.: abuse, bad parenting, broken home. If we can just stop and look at these youths as a force, not as a problem, the sky is the limit.
What is your hope for the Downtown Eastside?
I hope anyone who claims they love the city will take responsibility for the suffering and act on it. There are a million ways to help. You can go down there and spend time talking to people. What happened to the women of the Downtown Eastside could happen again.
Why is public art important?
The public is blasted by advertisement and useless information. Public art acts as a balance to that. I feel uncomfortable in many galleries, many try to size you up if you have money and will ignore you if they think you don't. This is their prerogative. I'd much rather look at art outside of such a setting and that's why we need to support the Vancouver Biennale for their unbelievable contribution to the cultural depth of this beautiful city.
Best life lesson? Respect and honour Mother Earth. Take the high road. Follow your heart.
One thing you wish Vancouverites would stop whining about? Being a "global" city.
Biggest accomplishment? Learning to love others more and more.
Biggest failure? Every time I let my ego get in the way of my higher self.
One thing you can't live without?
How do you spend the last $20 to your name?
Pitch and Putt.
Best place for coffee?
Opus Hotel's Cento Notti.
Slow cooked ribs.
Last book read?
Temples of the African Gods by Michael Tellinger
Style Wars or Rockers.
Working on the log cabin in the North Shore Mountains.
Best thing about this city?
Its natural beauty.
Worst thing about this city?
The suffering in the Downtown Eastside
I'm going get some heat for this, but the Olympic Village is breathtaking.
What is a perfect Vancouver day?
Walk my little min-pin on the beach early morning at Jericho. Snowboard at Mt. Seymour and then go back to the beach for a late BBQ and campfire with friends and family.
Where do you take visitors to show off our city?
Stanley Park then the Downtown Eastside.
Most overrated person?
People who limit their social contribution to "thanks bus driver" and clicking "like" on Facebook posts for social issues.
Most memorable celebrity encounter?
When I met Hopi representative Ronald Wadsworth at Reconnect the World held at the Rio Theatre last month. The Hopi are a federally recognized tribe who primarily live on a reservation in Arizona. This was the very first time Ronald had left his Hopi village of Shungopavi in 50 years. Vancouver was his first big city experience ever and he loved it. He loved the people.