Due to a series of challenges faced by artist Mary Longman, the unveilings of the Passage Home sculpture and Healing Garden park installation will be delayed by several months from their original dates.
The project includes a walking path surrounded by five maple trees and five custom benches, with a bronze cased traditional travel carriage with moccasins and a bison bundle inside as the star of the show.
The project is a memorial to Indigenous children who died away from home and those who are still finding their way back as a result of residential schools, day schools, and the 60s Scoop.
The sculpture was originally supposed to be unveiled on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and the park was to be unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day, but Longman didn’t receive grant money for the project from Canada Council for the Arts until this February.
“Things kind of started behind schedule right from the get-go,” said Longman during Tuesday’s Executive Committee meeting.
Since starting the project, Longman said they’ve also found different delays with contractors and changing construction plans.
“Overall, I think that I was overly ambitious with the timeline, trying to accomplish essentially two artworks within an eight-month span,” she added.
Not only did Longman take on the task of designing the park itself, but also the actual sculpture, which typically take around two years to complete on average.
“Ideally, we wanted it last year and I got stuck on the date of Truth and Reconciliation Day, rather than being more realistic about how much time it would take,” said Longman.
She provided an alternate Oct. 30 to Nov. 30 unveiling date for the sculpture, as the design is just entering the 3D printing stage now.
Longman believes the park itself should still be finished by this summer, pending the completion of the custom benches.
Mayor Greg Dionne voiced his concerns with having to move to the project’s unveiling once again.
“We have to make sure that we communicate what we’re doing to the public because this is a serious situation,” said Dionne.
As a result of the project’s delay, Dionne moved a motion that the City will enter into a new agreement with Longman with solid timelines, which was passed six to one.