ARTISTS: Paul Reimer and Michael Hepher
MEDIA: Hand-Forged Iron
DIMENSIONS: 30' x 12' x 9', 3000 lbs
LOCATION: Canadian Rockies International Airport, Cranbrook, BC, Canada
PROJECT CONCEPT: The Reconciliation Sculpture is a visual expression of partnership and hope. It acknowledges the difficult relationship between the Ktunaxa Nation and their white neighbours and depicts symbolically the journey toward a future shaped by understanding and collaboration.
At the centre of the sculpture there is a river, flowing on like time itself. The river moves smoothly at first, representing the peaceful existence of the Ktunaxa, but becomes rough and troubled when difficulties arise with white settlers, the church and the government.
Just beyond this troubled water, six human figures carry a Ktunaxa canoe. Three of these people are Ktunaxa, shaped to resemble the pictographs found in Canal Flats. The other three, more rectangular figures represent white people and their culture. Together these figures travel around the troubled river in order to relaunch the canoe in the peaceful waters ahead.
The canoe, modeled after the unique Ktunaxa sturgeon-nosed canoe, represents the work of Ktunaxa and white people coming together on the journey to a better place. All of the Ktunaxa figures carry the canoe, while the three white figures demonstrate increasing levels of cooperation. One stands by passively as his Ktunaxa counterpart lifts the stern; the next reaches out to help carry the canoe; and the third shoulders the bow alongside a Ktunaxa partner, willing to help carry the burden and move swiftly toward a peaceful shared future.
It is my hope that this sculpture will serve as a reminder of the challenges and inequality that have affected the relationship between the Ktunaxa Nation and white immigrants as we have shared this territory, but even more so of the necessity of reconciliation to overcome those challenges so that we may travel together in the future.
PRODUCED BY: Reimer & Co Blacksmiths