City commissions artist as part of Reimagine Nanaimo campaign

Sonnet L’Abbé performs Nazaneen: A Song for Nanaimo at the Port Theatre. || Screenshot from City Of Nanaimo YouTube.

The City of Nanaimo commissioned three works of art as a part of the Reimagine Nanaimo campaign. The commissions demonstrate how the city invites insights from diverse leaders from different cultures within the community, according to Julie Bevan, manager of culture and events.

“These three works are thoughtful, provocative, and ultimately hope-filled visions about the kind of place they see Nanaimo becoming through planning and action,” Bevan said.

Valina Zanetti, a first-year university student, wrote the poem The Change I Want to See where she imagined a future for Nanaimo with reduced emissions, a healthier environment and an end to homelessness and racism. She read her poem to council in early October and it can now be read online.

“These creative contributions demonstrate engagement and passion with the issues of our time, and they are a testament to how the City of Nanaimo is creating opportunities for people to participate and share their perspective in different ways,” said Mayor Leonard Krog. 

Sebastian Abboud is a designer and illustrator based in Nanaimo who works on projects with clients internationally and is an instructor at Vancouver Island University (VIU). He created an illustration called Looking Forward for the city.

“I chose to illustrate topics that I think the city should prioritize… including affordable housing, active transportation, education, arts and culture, and building strong and safe communities,” Abboud said.

Sonnet L’Abbé is a poet who teaches creative writing at VIU — she wrote Nazaneen: A Song For Nanaimo. The song is penned as a letter to her friend, a black woman considering moving to Nanaimo with her sons for a job.

“When the City of Nanaimo is asking everybody… what your vision of Nanaimo’s future is, they asked me what I thought and I started thinking about the questions that I had when I was moving here and how much I would love to see a whole bunch of diverse young professionals come to town,” L’Abbé said.

The city is accepting entries for its Creative Community contest until Nov. 30 and invites residents to share their vision for the future creativity at

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