Talented young artists Mandy Sheppard and Amanda Ledsome recently painted the colourful and unique wing art onto the north side of the Barriere Liquor Store building at the request of building owner and family friend, Shane Baykey. (Jill Hayward photo)

Daring to dream – Barriere building given wings

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” – Muhammad Ali

The Barriere and Area Chamber of Commerce has been working hard to promote the town’s amenities and opportunities. A Chamber revitalization project for the downtown core that began a few years ago is now well underway. To date the project has created a small community gathering square directly in front of the Chamber office, which is also the area’s Tourism Information Centre. The square has been utilized for many seasonal and community gatherings and celebrations, including an extremely successful ‘Fill The Cruiser’ event for the Barriere Food Bank last fall.

Local businesses and entrepreneurs have joined together with the Chamber to show the pride they have in their community – and it shows.

Buildings have been restored and/or painted, and planters now adorn the heart of the community’s downtown area.

It is a shame that the financial impact of COVID-19 experienced by area businesses and tourism outlets since last March has knocked the feet out from underneath many merchants. However, Barriere businesses are not strangers to disaster – they have persevered through the 2003 McLure Wildfire, the evacuations, the loss of area homes and businesses, and the resultant closing of the Tolko Mill. Now their undying community spirit is challenged again by this new pandemic – but area businesses and entrepreneurs are meeting the challenge head on – with determination, foresight, ingenuity and imagination.

Imagination is something that Barriere businessman Shane Baykey has wholeheartedly embraced throughout his life. He has an inherent knack to see the potential in property, buildings, and objects that many would miss.

Baykey is a constant supporter of promoting Barriere’s business community, and is dedicated to the Chamber’s vision of helping the town to become a consistent stopping place for tourists as they travel through the North Thompson Valley. Revitalizing Barriere’s downtown core, cleaning things up, creating and enhancing tourism draws, and most importantly encouraging pride in one’s community has prompted Baykey to take a bold step with a building he owns in that downtown area.

The building currently houses a number of businesses, including the Liquor Store. There is a long windowless wall on the north side of the building, a wall that Baykey says needed “some life added to it”. So, what could be better to add life, and lift the spirits and imagination of viewers than murals of wings?

Wings! Butterfly, dragonfly, bird, angel, and Indigenous wing art now fill that blank wall with colour. The art invites you in for a closer look, it feeds your imagination, and it lifts you up.

Many of the wings are painted in such a way that you can pose between them for a photograph or a selfie, or just become one with the wings. Relax and let the wings take you. Let your imagination take you into the sky, feel the wind in your face, soar over this valley that you call home. Let the wings embrace you – just fly!

“Wings are not only for birds; they are also for minds. Human potential stops at some point somewhere beyond infinity.”

– Toller Cranston

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