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Co-operation caps off public statue series

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The seventh statue in the Dauphin Bronze Statue Public Art project of the City of Dauphin was unveiled under an early snowfall, Oct. 3.
Mayor Al Dowhan explained the statue, Helping Hands, represented the co-operation it takes to make things happen.
“Each one of us extending a hand to the other, to scale mountains we would not attempt on our own,” he said.
“Dauphin understands the importance of this virtue through and through and it is truly personified in this latest statue.”
The series of statues were each assigned a guiding principle, Dowhan said, meant to represent the foundations Dauphin was built on.
Co-operation was equally important to all the other virtues of the project, which are optimism, curiosity, perseverance, compassion, courage, and vision, he said, but holds a particular tie with the spirit of the community.
“We are extremely lucky to live in a community that is growing, yet not too big to know and work with your neighbour in all kinds of ways,” he said.
“That includes everything from daily work, to coaching, to committees and boards, to fundraising.”
Dowhan noted Helping Hands is a replica, with Dauphin owning the only copy in Canada, making it a unique addition to the collection.
City manager Brad Collett pointed out the unveiling marks a milestone in Dauphin’s history, as the project that began in 2014 will be formally completed.
The entire project was envisioned, championed and fine-tuned by the late, former mayor Eric Irwin, he said, with much input and work from Melisa Stefaniw, marketing director for Dauphin Economic Development and Tourism.
“Eric’s plan was to erect quality, long-lasting bronze statues, but have them mostly paid for by someone other than the City of Dauphin. He succeeded, as the total amount raised toward this project from outside sources exceeded $334,000,” Collett added.
The total cost of the series was $515,763, he explained, with $185,009 funded by the city over the five-year period and the remaining $330,754 coming from private donations, grants or other funding sources.
Each statue was funded in a completely different manner, Collett said, which depended on whether a group was sponsoring it, or if there were other funding sources.
The statues varied in cost from a low of $22,668, to a high of $181,249, he noted, adding the most expensive statue cost the city the least.
“It’s fitting this statue is being dedicated by city council to Eric Irwin, as without his leadership and ability to bring people, ideas and groups together, so many things would not have started or been completed in our city,“ Collett said.
“And I couldn’t be more pleased that my last official act as city manager is to dedicate this piece of public art to my friend and former mayor, Eric Irwin.”
Collett praised Stefaniw for the, “unbelievable amount of work” she did throughout the project, noting she was instrumental in its success.
Stefaniw explained public art is accessible to all, crediting a supportive council and the passion of Irwin for leading the charge.
“One thing that I’ve learned through the process is that public art is a way to slow one’s pace through a space. And you end up stopping and pausing in a fast-paced world and take consideration and thought on a topic that you may not have done before,” she said.
While co-operation is the final virtue represented in the collection as originally listed, Dowhan noted, conversations have begun regarding an Indigenous statue, in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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