Close to 50 people attended a special Rotary Club “brown bag” lunch on November 30, to learn more about the Harmony Project and see the mosaics which will make up the heart of the project, which is planned for a site on Railway Avenue beside the Heritage Park.
The four mosaics depict and celebrate Ashcroft’s cultural diversity over the decades, commemorating the First Nations, Chinese, Japanese, and settlers who have contributed to the town.
Many of those at the lunch had brought in photographs of family members, which artist Marina Papais used as a basis for portraits in the centre of each mosaic, and attendees spent much time reminiscing as they spotted friends and family members.
Funding for the mosaics and the structure that will house them was obtained from the New Pathways to Gold Society, and David Durksen announced that a $15,000 grant from the Anglican Foundation of Canada has been received for the construction of a labyrinth around the site.
However, Durksen noted that so far there has been more than $70,000 in in-kind donations to create the Harmony Project, for things such as planning and the labour.
The Harmony Project is the brainchild of Papais and her husband Daniel Collett.
“We had the idea years ago,” says Papais. “We became intimate with the community after we moved here, and we knew we were going to be here forever.
“We wanted to know how to tell the world we can all live as one. We heard people’s stories, and realized we’re all the same, we’re all related. We wanted to bring that fact out.
“And we need more reconciliation. We’ve overcome the residential schools, the head tax, internment, and settlers coming here from war-torn countries for better lives in Ashcroft for themselves and their children.
“The Harmony Project will be a tie binding us together as a community.”
“We wanted to make a positive change and a difference in the world at a local level,” says Collett, noting that the project will include a bell. “We know if the harmony bell is there, people will ring it.
“This is what reconciliation looks like: people putting something into action. It respects all the traditions and communities in our town, and says ‘May our community, our world, be as one.’”