Greta Thunberg mural in Edmonton vandalized in both official languages

The artist posted a video of his mural on Twitter Friday. By Sunday afternoon, it was barely visible beneath all the vitriol

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, in a blue jacket, joined about 8,000 community members outside the Alberta legislature in a climate strike in Edmonton on Friday, Oct. 18. Shaughn Butts/Postmedia Network

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Several genuine Big Boys, absolute adults who won’t be pushed around by the likes of you, took the time this weekend to deface a mural of a Swedish teenager in Edmonton.

Local artist AJA Louden painted the portrait of climate activist Greta Thunberg on a graffiti wall in the Alberta capital Friday. On Sunday, as a reporter from CBC looked on, a grown man spray painted a message—“This is Oil Country—over Thunberg’s face.

“We don’t need foreigners comin’ in and telling us how to run our business, support our families, put food on our tables,” the man, who identified himself as James Bagnall, told the CBC.

He added that Thunberg should “just shut up” until she had “solutions.”

Thunberg, 16, spoke to a crowd of thousands in Edmonton on Friday. Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples called her speech “gracious,” “articulate,” “composed,” and “forceful.”


She told the crowd that richer “countries such as Canada and Sweden need to get down to zero emissions much faster so people in poorer countries can heighten their standard of living by building the infrastructure we have already built,” according to Reuters.

The news agency reported that honking horns from a counter protest, organized by pro-pipeline group United We Roll, could be heard in the background as Thunberg spoke.

Louden posted a video of his mural, painted on a kind of free-expression wall near the Alberta legislature, on Twitter Friday. By Sunday afternoon, the original image was barely visible beneath all the painted vitriol.

“Agent provacateur out of Canada!” one message read. Another derided Thunberg with an especially graphic French slur. On either side of the original portrait, Louden wrote the words “Thank you, Greta” and “thank you, Beaver Hills Clan,” the later a reference to the grassroots environmental group that helped organize Thunberg’s visit.

In the altered image, Thunberg’s eyes are blacked out and crossed over. When CBC returned to the mural later Sunday, a reporter found another man painting another slur over her face. That Big Boy declined to give his name.

Artist AJA Louden posted a video of his Greta mural on Twitter Friday. By Sunday afternoon, the original image was barely visible beneath all the vitriol. Twitter

Louden, however, wasn’t really bothered. He painted the original mural during Thunberg’s climate rally on Friday. In an interview Monday, he said the painting took him about 2.5 hours to complete and he wasn’t upset at all when he learned Sunday that the Big Boys had defaced it.

“I painted the portrait over somebody else’s art work,” he said. “So I don’t feel upset at all about somebody going over mine.”

Louden sees the free wall as a place for the city to speak to itself. “One of the goals with painting that portrait was to further the conversation,” he said. “It seems like the alterations that were done have helped me there.”

“In my mind, the people that painted over this have just as much right to paint there as I do,” he added. “I’m glad we live in a place where we have opportunities to be able to express ourselves and exercise our voices.”