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Public invited to discuss Sea to Sky memorial

Input sought memorial to people who've died on highway



Organizers of the Sea to Sky Memorial, a proposed 18-foot high sculpture commemorating those who have died on Highway 99, will host an open house on the project this weekend.

"We expect various communities to be there ranging from Lions Bay, to Britannia and so on," said Ice Bear, an Ojibwa sculptor, painter and muralist who has lived and worked on the West Cost for a quarter of a century.

The idea for the memorial came to artist Ice Bear and partner Charronne Douglas after a close friend was killed last year travelling the Sea to Sky Highway.

The memorial is a copy of a bronze Thunderbird eagle sculpture the victim was about to buy from Ice Bear.

This weekend’s meeting will be held at the Britannia Mining Museum on Saturday, May 6 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:40 p.m.

It has been suggested that the memorial go into the Shannon Falls area since there is already good public parking, road access and other facilities at the site. However, no site has been chosen yet and, said Ice Bear, the meeting is a chance for every one to voice their opinions on where it should go.

"If someone has a greater need, or feels that it would be better in and around their area, then that can’t be denied," he said.

"It has to be a collective thing where folks are happy and comfortable, after all it is a monument. It is meant for a place of contemplation, a place where people will be able to reflect."

Organizers hope the sculpture will be visible from the highway so that it may impact everyone driving by and not just those who stop to learn or remember.

"If it causes (drivers) to lift their foot off the gas just a little bit then that is good," said Ice Bear.

"You can’t measure that kind of a thing. It is only measured with the casualties and the victims."

The meeting will be a chance for the public to see a small version of the memorial sculpture, estimated to cost $125,000, meet the artists and talk about the memorial.

"Since the story first broke a few weeks ago, we have heard from many families, telling us of family members who were killed on that highway as far back as the ’70s," wrote Douglas in an e-mail. "Some have lost several members of their family in the same accident."

The Thunderbird site will be chosen by the end of this summer and it is hoped the sculpture will in place by 2008.

It will also have a healing garden around it and a place for those who have lost loved ones to place commemorative plaques.

Money for the project is being raised from corporate sponsors, and through donations. Already on board is Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Thunderbird Press, B.C. Museum of Mining, Interglobe Investigations Services Inc., and several others.

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When the sculpture, which is titled Animikii the Ojibwa name for Thunderbird, is complete it will be flown into place.