Mural in Edmonton that offered thanks to young Swedish climate activist defaced

EDMONTON — An Edmonton man says he defaced a mural of teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg because he wanted to take a stand peacefully.

James Bagnall says he wrote “stop the lies” and “this is oil country” on the portrait of the 16-year-old girl against a bright-blue background.

He says he wasn’t taking shots at Thunberg as a person, but he’s tired of people bashing Albertans’ way of life.

The mural was painted on what is known as a free wall not far from a light-rail transit station near Commonwealth Stadium.

Artist AJA Louden told CBC News in an email that one of his favourite things about the wall is that anyone is allowed to express themselves, so he’s not upset.

Before it was defaced, the mural read “Thank you, Greta” and “Thank you, Beaver Hills Warriors” — a reference to the grassroots environmental group that helped lead a large climate change rally with Thunberg in Edmonton on Friday.

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out, and a slur and a message telling Thunberg to leave Canada were written over top in French. Bagnall said he was not responsible for the French messages.

Thunberg was among thousands who walked through the city’s downtown to rally at the legislature, vastly outnumbering a group of oil-and-gas industry supporters at a counter-rally.

In a speech at the event, she repeated her message that the future of the planet is at stake and action must be taken to fight climate change, but she refrained from any direct criticism of the Alberta oilsands.

Thunberg spent part of the weekend near Fort McMurray doing interviews, which a local First Nation said will be part of an upcoming BBC documentary.

The Mikisew Cree First Nation said Thunberg’s interviews focused on environmental concerns over oilsands development and climate change.

She was presented with a blanket and the First Nation said in a statement that it was honoured to “join forces” with Thunberg as she leads the way in “protecting our planet from the climate crisis.”

Thunberg arrived in Fort McMurray on Friday night and met with Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam, who said he told her to get Europeans to lobby oilsands investors for greener technology to extract Alberta energy.

(Canadian Press)

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