back to top

Another Mural Dedicated To Women Of Colour Was Defaced In Ottawa

"There’s definitely a white supremacist element in the city of Ottawa."

Posted on

Yet another mural dedicated to people of colour has been defaced in downtown Ottawa.

I am sickened. This mural was defaced. It spoke of trans people of colour. I am angry and saddened. #blacklivesmatter

The piece was put up on Bank Street during Ottawa's Pride week a month ago to honour trans women of colour who have been murdered in the past year.

Overnight Wednesday it was painted over and spraypainted with the words "RACIST BULLSHIT," "ALL COLOURS MATTER," and "ALL LIVES, NO DOUBLE STANDARD, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED."

One of the artists behind the piece, Kalkidan Assefa, told BuzzFeed Canada it shows that racism is very much alive in Ottawa.

"There’s definitely a white supremacist element in the city of Ottawa. People want to deny it but we face it everyday," he said.

"I don’t think it’s a big a secret and I don’t think it’s isolated just to Ottawa."

The use of the phrase "all lives matter" is also very telling, he added.

"That’s completely a problematic statement. It’s an erasure in just the way that it’s being done to silence black voices and indigenous voices — whoever is speaking," he said.

"How can you say all lives matter when we can’t even express ourselves?"


This isn't the first time a piece of art dedicated to people of colour was defaced in Ottawa.

In July, Assefa and fellow artists Allan Andre painted a mural to Sandra Bland on what's known as the "tech wall" in Ottawa. Bland, a black woman, died in a Texas jail cell on July 13 after being stopped for a traffic violation.

A day after it went up, the mural was defaced with tags, including the message "all lives matter."

Similarly, a mural painted on the same wall dedicated to solidarity between black and indigenous communities was covered over this month.

On Thursday morning, community members gathered at the Bank Street to cover over the vandalism.

Assefa said most of the defacement has now been covered in white paint. They're inviting community members to add their own messages.

Ottawa City Councillor Catherine McKenney has reached out to the city's hate crimes unit regarding the defacement.

Heartbreaking So much more work to do. #VAW #BlackLivesMatter #TransLivesMatter

Ottawa Police are investigating the incident, McKenney told BuzzFeed Canada.

"Anytime there's a crime directed toward black women, trans women, we have to take it seriously."



Shortly after community members painted over the defaced piece, it was vandalized once again. The red paint appears to have been added by someone in broad daylight.

Again, the wall was restored. And, again, it was defaced with "all lives matter."

Allies repainting the mural in honour of trans women of colour AGAIN. #Ottawa #BlackLivesMatter

Assefa told BuzzFeed Canada it's unclear who is behind the frequent defacements.

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.