Looking Ahead to 2021

Four illustrators share their hopes for themselves and the world

An illustration of the road from prisons to freedom. At the bottom is guards, fences, police cards. As the people make their way to the top of the road, locks on their wrists begin to be cut off and they are released freely into an open field

Serenity by blackpowerbarbie

My hopes for 2021 are lofty. I want to visit a water park with my loved ones. I want to share space with strangers whose proximity I’m not gravely afraid of. I want to stand in a long line and laugh moistly over funnel cake. I want to float on the lazy river in the beating heat, ­unbothered by whose child might be peeing in the water because we’re all there to relax and have a good time together.

Home by Jonathan Dyck

I grew up in southern Manitoba, and all I saw in front of me was gridded farmland. But spending so much time close to home is changing the way I think about the Prairies. I’ve hiked old trails, visited ghost towns, and learned about the trading sites that shaped this area before the Canadian government sent in its survey crews. I’m noticing the variations across farmers’ fields beyond their respective crops: the covered-over creek beds, the persistent patches of forest and scrub. And I’ve been bringing along my binoculars to keep track of the birds. I’m looking forward to my first full year of migration cycles.

Activism by Maya McKibbin

In 2020, as many of us were locked down due to the pandemic, we spent time reflecting on the inequalities around us. As citizens of one of the globe’s wealthiest nations, we can fight for ­accountability. In June, amid a flurry of COVID-19 headlines, Alberta passed a bill that would see Indigenous land defenders fined or jailed if they block infrastructure such as railways and pipelines while protecting their own territories. In 2021, I hope we can hold governments accountable by staying informed and ­politically ­active, giving directly to community members, and continuing to learn from one another.

Justice by Dalbert B. Vilarino

Like many people this past year, I’ve been thinking about policing and prisons. My hope for the future is that these institutions will be abolished and reimagined in ways that prioritize the wellbeing of marginalized and racialized people. This would be radical, but these systems are intractably and intrinsically violent, racist, and nonrehabilitative. I dream of a society that instead invests in creating ­vibrant, healthy, and safe communities.

The Walrus Staff
blackpowerbarbie is an illustrator, animator, and director.
Jonathan Dyck
Jonathan Dyck is an illustrator living in Winnipeg. His work has appeared in Literary Review of Canada and Alberta Views.
Maya McKibbin
Maya McKibbin is a two-spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme, and Irish filmmaker, illustrator, and storyteller.
Dalbert B. Vilarino
Dalbert B. Vilarino is a freelance editorial and conceptual illustrator based in Toronto. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Wired.