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This article was published 29/10/2015 (2000 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hikers, cyclists, joggers and commuters along the Northeast Pioneers Greenway between Raleigh and Gateway will notice something new and vibrant the next time they head past Concordia Avenue.
The Life Journey public art project depicting the life cycle of the monarch butterfly was unveiled on Oct. 28. The sculpture was conceptualized by the Girls’ Club of Kildonan East Collegiate (845 Concordia Ave.) and artist Denise Préfontaine, who were matched through the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Youth WITH ART program.
"It’s great to have it installed and to see people sitting on the benches," Préfontaine said following the official unveiling.
Life Journey came to life with the help of students from Hampstead Elementary School (920 Hampstead Ave.) and Valley Gardens Middle School (220 Antrim Rd.), and senior women from Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home (1045 Concordia Ave.). Préfontaine and the Girls’ Club spent sessions with each group assembling tiles into patterns for the various stages of the monarch, from pupa to larva to butterfly.
"When we were doing the tiling together, we’d just converse for hours," said Tania Wiebe, a Grade 12 student at KEC, who worked on the project last year. "We laughed, we shared stories. It was neat to see how we all connected together."
"I was excited for the girls’ ability to build on their confidence when they had a chance to connect with the younger students and the seniors," said Deanna Michalski-Tellier, a teacher at KEC and Girls’ Club advisor. "This was a good project for that."
The Winnipeg Arts Council and the River East Neighbourhood Network provided funding to build the sculpture and install it on the Northeast Pioneers Greenway.
"People of all ages have come together to work on it," said Louise Balaban, co-chair of the River East Neighbourhood Network Trail Committee. "The Trail Committee has always envisioned artwork along the way. So to have a project like this is just incredible."
The next step for Life Journey will come in the spring, when the River East Neighbourhood Network Trail Committee will partner with the city’s naturalist branch to surround the site with natural flowers. Milkweed, the leaves of which are monarch larva’s source of nutrients, will feature prominently. The Girls’ Club will also be involved in planting the milkweed.
"I’m so excited to see the plants come in," Wiebe said. "The flowers will attract more butterflies and people."
"One day we’ll be sitting here on the benches and a butterfly will come and sit next to us," Préfontaine said.
For more information about the Life Journey project, visit winnipegarts.ca/wac/artwork/life-journey
The Herald community journalist
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112