Kamloops’ next piece of public art will be a statue entitled “Lend a Hand”, which pays tribute to volunteers and the work that they do throughout the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
The idea for the statue was approved by the TNRD board of directors in fall 2017, and while it was originally announced that the monument would “recognize volunteers from throughout the regional district who gave of their time during the  summer’s devastating wildfire season,” the work now honours volunteers in general.
“It’s always been a monument to volunteers,” says Michelle Nordstrom, the TNRD’s communications and marketing manager. “But it’s not a wildfire monument, or specific to wildfire volunteers. Lots of volunteer acts happened because of the wildfires—it was a huge volunteer effort—but we didn’t want to make it specific to those volunteers.
“We’ve diffused it a bit. Now it’s more about general volunteers.”
“Lend a Hand” was one of three finalists at the design stage, and maquettes (small-scale models) of the three final designs travelled throughout June to libraries in the region, where members of the public could view them and vote on their favourite.
The winning selection, by Lee-Anne Chisholm and Aaron Hunter, was chosen by six representatives from the City of Kamloops and the TNRD, as well as the “people’s choice” vote, which made up one seat on the deciding jury when the public’s ballots were counted.
The monument will be erected in a terraced area outside the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, which was transformed into an Emergency Social Services reception centre during the 2017 wildfires, and played host to thousands of evacuees.
The cost of the work—including installation—is expected to be about $100,000. Nordstrom says there has been ongoing negative feedback about the decision to spend the money on a monument since last December, when the decision to go ahead with the monument was made public.
“The board looked at $100,000 as a reasonable investment for volunteer appreciation,” says Nordstrom.
“[The monument] will be longer-lasting than a [volunteer appreciation] dinner, and there are reserve funds in the budget for it.
“People have said ‘The money should be used for more computers at [emergency] reception centres.’ But when there’s an emergency incident, computers and cots and more come from the provincial government.
“Funding for emergency events comes from the Province, and we can’t use provincial funds for a statue. The funding [for the monument] is from the regional district. Money from the administrative budget can be allocated for special things like this.”
Nordstrom says that the artists will assemble the finished work off-site, and the TNRD will prepare the Sandman Centre site in November. The pieces of the statue will then be brought in and assembled, and a lighting element will be installed.
The work is expected to be formally unveiled by the end of November 2018.