CWM Goes to the Victoria International Chalk Festival (again!)

On September 13th and 14th this year, CWM joined a bunch of incredible chalk artists for a weekend of power chalking on Government Street in Victoria!

We entered the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival for the second year in a row…

And here’s what we chalked:

put yourself in someone else's...

put yourself in someone else’s…

This was the final piece in our summer Shoe Project. If you haven’t already seen the work we did around Vancouver, check our the other shoes we chalked!

Our piece on Government Street

Our piece on Government Street

Details of each pair of chalky shoes to come! Stay tuned! 🙂

Chalk With S: Awkward Santa Claus

I was last home with my family during the holiday season five Christmases ago. I have spent this December between my two homes, Kenya and India. This got me remembering all the Christmases I have had in these countries, including the one where I was an awkward Santa Claus.

I must have been around seven. We (the Deanes) spent that Christmas with my aunt and her family when we lived in Mumbai. Food, music, and family; all was festive and fun. Then, it came to present-opening time, and I was stoked. By then, I had accepted that someone had to put on a Santa costume and pass around presents on Christmas, because it just wasn’t practical for Santa to make an appearance at everyone’s gift-distribution sessions. What I hadn’t anticipated was being asked to step into his shoes for the occasion.

My aunt came up to me and asked me to be Santa Claus. She told me it would be fun, and she makes everything fun, so I took the fake cotton beard, and red clothes she handed me. But then I had my doubts. I put on the costume, thinking “no one is going to buy this”. I was seven, a girl, beardless, and Indian. I was not a large, old white man named Nick. Everything was working against me. But, I did it, because someone had to do it, or no one would get presents. It ended up being quite a laugh playing Santa, and my family enjoyed seeing the little one in costume,  but I did feel like a fraud. I kept thinking, “you know it’s me, and I don’t even look convincing”.

Can Christmas look like this?

Can Christmas look like this?

Now, I understand that moment a bit better. I had this idea that Christmas was only really Christmas if it looked like it did on American TV. My family are Christian, and have been celebrating Christmas for generations, but it still felt to me like we were not the real deal because we did not fit the image. I had many questions as a child, trying to understand being part of a minority culture seen by many I interacted with as being closer connected to the “West” than India. Were we believable? Church looked like churches from around the world, but did we fit the image? What about Church services in different Indian languages… were they considered authentic enough? Could you really wear Indian outfits to Church? Why am I called ‘Anglican’, and not ‘Catholic’ like the people I go to school with?

Being asked these questions in India, and the other countries I’ve lived in did play a role in solidifying my identity awkwardness. But, because I was asked, I looked for answers, and I understand all of this better as an adult. I now know Christmas can look different everywhere, and that the rotund man from the North Pole can be played by anyone, and is, in fact, optional.

Chalk Challenge, Week 17

What days do you love celebrating?

Across the globe, there are so many different festivals, holidays and important days to mark through the year. What days are important celebration days to you? Chalk about any day you celebrate! You could write what it’s called, or draw something to represent how you celebrate it 🙂

Celebrations through the year!

Celebrations through the year!

Share your chalking with us on our Facebook page, twitter or at

Look Who’s Chalking: literASIAN Writing Festival

literASIAN is a writing festival that promotes awareness of Asian Canadian literature, history, and culture. It is put on by the Vancouver Asian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW) which provides a supportive and culturally sensitive environment for members from a common Pacific Rim Asian Canadian heritage.

Check out some of their awesome workshops from November 21-24, 2013.

But before you do that, take our online questionnaire on words and social justice!

Chalk With S: Talk The Chalk

I’m inviting you to talk about what you want to chalk about! 🙂

Any time there is an event or occasion that interests a few people, there is room for different viewpoints and concerns. I did not grow up celebrating Halloween. The idea of joining people in celebrating a day dedicated to being a different character or object was intriguing. Sure, I had seen in it movies, books, TV shows… but apart from one year in kindergarten, I was never in a place that took the day seriously, before I moved to Canada.

Participation is what I am thinking of today; how we join in, the questions we ask, what we contribute when we join. As an outsider, I found myself looking at many problematic costumes wondering how they were acceptable or even funny, but feeling like that discomfort was because I lacked an understanding of them. Because I felt it was not my place to judge, I did not voice my opinions, or ask my questions to more than a handful of people.

This year, however, I was able to take the discussion beyond the small network of people I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts on this with. Instead of repeating what they already knew about how some costumes are insensitive to sex, ability, culture, age, identity, race, class and gender, amongst other things, I managed to convey my thoughts on the subject to people I had never had such conversations with, hopefully without being didactic. How?

Respectfully invite people to participate respectfully :)

Respectfully invite people to participate respectfully 🙂

Through chalk. Rather, by referring to the chalking we did on the subject. I was able to point people in the direction of our website, so they could see the message in chalk with left on Granville Island the weekend before Halloween: what does your costume say?

In our last post, we talked about how we want to celebrate more occasions and events, and think of our involvement in them as we do. Raise questions, highlight some aspects of them, and look closer at others that need to be re-evaluated. Give us suggestions for more events and occasions that could use some chalk messages to highlight an important issue! We want to participate, and do so thoughtfully, considerately and respectfully.

While you think of occasions and days that are important to you, feel free to use our chalking in conversation. I found this to be a great way to start telling people what I thought, without being condescending or preachy.
“Oh, I actually did some chalking on this… We left a message, because it is an important issue. Check it out! “

Please don’t hesitate – talk the chalk! Respectfully invite people to participate respectfully; everyone has thoughts and ideas to chalk 🙂


Chalk Challenge, Week 11

What other words are scary?

Chalk and Halloween make a great pair. Check out the chalking we did on Granville Island last saturday! 

Let’s end this spooky, fun week with this chalk challenge:
Chalk this with a word of your choice: Respect______

We have a list of suggestions here, but feel free to add your own, or let us know what else you would like to see here!

Sex, Ability,

Sex, Ability, Culture, Age, Identity, Race, Class, Gender… to start with!

Share your chalking on our Facebook page , or Twitter. You can also email us at

The Chalk of the Town: Write, Speak, Share

Vote for capes!!

A preview!

Why is this chalky one wearing a cape? Find out this weekend!

Write, Speak, Share You can find it today at Granville Island, Vancouver.

Write, Speak, Share

Enjoy the festival, everyone 🙂 Write, speak and share your words, thoughts, ideas and stories!

Look Who’s Chalking: Vancouver International Writers Festival

Can you strike up a conversation?

Coming up this week: the Vancouver International Writers Festival!
Another great event that gets people sharing ideas and starting conversations.

On from 22-27 Oct, authors, poets, spoken word performers, and graphic novelists will be sharing their stories on Granville Island. And you know what we do when there’s an exciting event in town: we chalk. We will be on the lookout for some chalking space at the event, so we can join and encourage the celebration of stories!
Stop by, say hi 🙂

Quill you chalk with us?

Quill you chalk with us?

Chalk Challenge, Week 8

Today’s chalk challenge: Chalk the word ‘share’ somewhere, preferably with a little chalk character of your own!



Share your version on our Facebook page , or Twitter. You can also email us at

CWM Questionnaire  🙂

The Chalk of the Town: Book of Chalky Words

What words would you chalk on one of these pages? Let us know here:  CWM Questionnaire 

Here it is!

Some vertical chalking at Robson Square, Vancouver

Some vertical chalking…