A small-scale model of a proposed monument honouring the heroes of the wildfire has been unveiled.
Honouring the Heroes of Wood Buffalo Project community committee has been working with Canadian Sculptor Morgan MacDonald to create a piece that exhibits renewal, healing and community spirit.
MacDonald tells Mix News it was important for him to capture everyone who helped out last May from the firefighters to the unsung heroes.
“We all now stories of the firefighters, but it’s pretty much for the unsung heroes, just those simple acts of filling somebodies gas tank up in the middle of the highway and just neighbors helping one another out. I think just from the get to it was important to try and capture that.”
The small-scale model, which was unveiled at MacDonald Island Park on Thursday, only represents a vision of the finished project and is subject to change based on input from residents.
The completed bronze and stainless steel sculpture will be 16 feet tall topped with a scaled down version of a firefighting helicopter dousing the fire. It will also include footprints of community members as a key element of the proposed design.
The sculpture will eventually be placed in a park in Beacon Hill celebrating the lives of Emily Ryan and Aaron Hodgson who tragically lost their lives during the evacuation.
“People ask us every day, how are you doing, how are you coping? We haven’t perfected the answer to this question yet, it depends on any given day. Most often, as of late, what helps us is this, a project to help make sure Emily and Aaron aren’t forgotten. What started out as a small trust fund after her memorial for a park bench to hopefully be built into an existing park has grown into an amazing partnership that you see here,” said Emily’s step-mother Melonie Ryan, during the sculpture unveiling.
“Personally as parents we don’t want to let go of a child, but when the day comes and we have to, you have to more forward and what better way to do it than with a park.”
The committee is also hoping to create a time capsule as part of the park which would be a placeholder for keepsakes and stories to be rediscovered on a future date.