The Healing Quilt: Blanketing Our Lost Loved Ones

Title: The Healing Quilt: Blanketing Our Lost Loved Ones

Artist(s): Jerry Whitehead - Cree, Sharifah Marsden - Anishinaabe (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒃ), Corey Larocque - Cree/Gitxan/Haida.

Words: Bud Osborn

Community Partners: Culture Saves Lives, DTES Centre for the Arts, PHS Community Services Society, City of Vancouver, and The Interurban Gallery

Location: 20 W Hastings, Vancouver.

Year: 2017

Description: Featuring East Coast and West Coast Designs, the Star Blanket Mural is a co-creation between many artists and organizations working in communities affected by the fentanyl overdose crisis. The mural is intended as a site of meaning and beauty for the people who live in the DTES. It is both a memorial to those who have died during the ongoing crisis and a big beautiful bright gift for the folks who call the streets home.

jerry whitehead sharifah and corey hi rez.jpg
Starblanket Mural DTES inprogress.jpg

VIDEO INTERVIEW : Corey Larocque (Artist)

The Thunderbird painted by Corey Larocque represents the spiritual crossing and the transition into the spirit world. Corey was adopted into a family in Alert Bay which is where the crest of the Thunderbird comes from. He dedicated this piece to a well-loved chief who passed away due to fentanyl.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Patrick Smith (Culture Saves Lives)

The use of the Thunderbird was initially inspired by a painting created by a DTES resident, John Walkus Green who was at that time still an opioid user and was part of PHS programs including Culture Saves Lives.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Dalannah Gail Bowen (Downtown Eastside Centre For The Arts)

To me it means that we recognize this challenging time, we are experiencing many loses both personally and as a community, but this gives us hope.” - Dalannah Gail Bowen (DTES Centre for The Arts)


Vancouver Mural Festival’s Indigenous Programs supports artists and organizations in the creation of public art and workshops for youth. We believe Coast Salish and other Indigenous artists have the power to reshape urban spaces by reflecting their contemporary and traditional values, stories, experiences, and ideas in this lasting and tangible way. 

Vancity’s generous support enables us to better connect the stories of these programs with the public. Below you will find information in the form of videos, pictures, interviews, articles, and more.

Note: Our definition of Indigenous includes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.

David Vertesi