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Crafting a unique sculpture for Canada’s 150th birthday

There’s been no shortage of events and activities marking Canada’s 150th birthday, going well beyond the fireworks on July 1, but a group of local residents certainly came up with a unique approach.

Helping others to demonstrate their national pride, St. Clements’ Raymond Haid worked with residents of the Snowgoose Apartments in Elmira, a supportive home for people with intellectual disabilities, to come up with something especially poignant.

Haid says they had been doing various wood working projects together at the Snowgoose for some time, “and I just wanted to do something with them for the 150th.”

“[We] put all our heads together and thought ‘we’re going to do this.’”

Under Haid’s guidance, the team crafted an elaborate wood sculpture that manages to capture and celebrate all 150 years of Canada’s confederacy.

The sculpture is composed of a series of small wooden slabs that stack on top of one another, interlocking and overlapping. It resembles a city skyline if the buildings were made of clay, or like a much more busy Stonehenge – the effect is definitely striking.

Burned into each wooden slab is a little piece of Canada’s history – a year and an interesting factoid from that date. In 1918, says one slab, women gained the vote in Canada. In 1962, says another, the Trans Canada Highway opens. In 2001, Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to perform the spacewalk. There is one small monument for each of the country’s 150 years. 

Each piece of the sculpture represents an event from a specific year between 1867 and 2017. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

The sculpture was unveiled by the team to both MPP Michael Harris and MP Harold Albrecht on June 27 at its home in Snowgoose. It won’t be staying in one spot, however, as Haid will soon be taking the sculpture on a slow-moving tour of different places and businesses over the next few months.

The sculpture will be staying at the offices of  both politicians for about three weeks each, and has also been invited to spend some time at Castle Kilbride in Baden, on August 1, amongst other places.

Haid worked with Snowgoose’s four permanent residents, including his daughter Janine Haid, Brenda Fisher, Mark Allison and Joel Martin, to craft the sculpture, as well as the two university student who make their temporary home there, Meera Bavanandan and Sarah Bryson.

The students are not just there by happenstance, but are in fact central to how the Elmira District Community Living (EDCL) runs the apartment as a supportive home. Rather than hire permanent, full-time caregivers and minders, which can be immensely expensive, EDCL instead brings in two social work students to live there.

The students are offered free lodging with all the amenities, and a full scholarship for their studies. In turn the students take on the role of a good neighbour. They provide support and friendship and make themselves available in case of an emergency.

The Snowgoose Apartments team unveil their sculpture to Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht. On the left is Meera Bavanandan and Mark Allison in front, Sarah Bryson behind them, and Joel Martin in the back. Right of the sculpture is Raymond Haid, his daughter Janine Haid and Brenda Fisher in the front row, with Albrecht in the back. [Submitted]

The students are not there every minute, says Haid, “but whenever [the Snowgoose residents] do need somebody coming over to help them out, or just be with them just to be a bit of a friend … they’re always there.”

Haid is very supportive of the Snowgoose program, saying it definitely compares with more traditional system of hiring full-time caregivers.

“I think I would even put them ahead of that. They’re even better than that,” he says. “[The students are] almost like a mother to them.”

As for his daughter, Janine?

“Oh she loves it. She doesn’t want to be anywhere but up there,” he says.

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