'I hope that it will carry on': Cree artist hopes Canada 150 project connects youth to carving
'As you carve, you bring it to life and you can see it'
Sitting on wooden braces in a shed on the Alexander First Nation, a 5,000-lb slab of Vancouver Island marble slowly gives way to the sculpture Nature's Harmony.
Emerging from the stone are faces of a woman, a man, an eagle, a bear and a buffalo, important spiritual images for the Alberta Cree artist Leo Arcand.
"To enable us to get further and to learn about my culture and other minorities cultures and to be able to come together and share was my message," Arcand said.
"So we utilized that buffalo to knock away that negativity so we can walk together and walk forward as one."
Arcand's sculpts in his workshop on the Alexander First Nation and with his door always open he sometimes draws a crowd.
Those showing an interest in the project may be invited in to work under Arcand's guidance.
Branden Arcand, 14, started off sweeping the shop floor before his uncle taught him how to work with power tools.
Jorel Paul, 17, is proud to be working on the sculpture as community members look on.
"It gives you a good deal of confidence and makes you feel really good, makes you feel happy while you are working."
Leo Arcand says the true legacy of the sculpture will be teaching skills that will last generations.
"I hope that they gain something from this culturally, mentally, physically, emotionally and I hope that it will carry on and they will continue to come back and strive to learn more and from that opening up the doors to be able to express themselves freely as human beings."
Nature's Harmony will sit outside Norquest College between 102nd and 103rd avenues joining four other sculptures including:
- Transect by Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock (Firebrand Glass) between 99th and 100th avenues
- Star Gazer - Koo-Koo-Sint by Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur (Voyager Art & Tile ) between 100th and Jasper avenues
- Sentinel by Sandra Bromley between Jasper and 102nd avenues
- World Enough, And Time by Ken Macklin between 103rd and 104th avenues
The five were selected from 48 submissions from Alberta artists.