The sculpture known as Shining Raven Woman will live in an earthen dome where the Granby River flows into the Kettle.
It will take at least a year and a half before she gets there, said Grand Forks’ David Seven Deers, who hand-carved her out of a one-ton slab of Labradorite from the Canadian Shield.
“This may be the last one I do,” he said, pointing to the kneeling woman whose name is Ikasha in Halkomelem, the language spoken by Seven Deers’ Coast Salish people.
“I had to do it the best I could, never thinking about where it goes or where it’s going to stay.”
To look into her eyes is to feel the vision behind Seven Deers’ work. He’d wanted “to bring beauty into this world that we live in,” he told The Gazette.
Ikasha is nothing if not beautiful–so much so that city council voted on Aug. 31 to leverage its partnerships with the provincial and federal governments to help fund the earthen lodge.
Seven Deers had meanwhile sent a letter to Governor General Julie Payette bearing the signatures of 37 community leaders who supported the project. Payette and mayor Brian Taylor have since written their own letters endorsing the project.
The finished dome will span just over 36 feet, decorated on the inside with Salish-themed paintings of creation.
Schematics aside, Seven Deers said he wanted Ikasha’s home at the rivers’ confluence to convey a message of hope.
“The word that we use now is ‘reconciliation,’” he explained.
But Seven Deers’ interpretation of that word transcends this country’s colonial legacy.
“Those two rivers symbolize the basics of male and female, man and woman. How do we reconcile in a marriage? How do we reconcile in a family? And in a country and in the larger community, we’ve got to listen to each other. Those two rivers coming together here in Grand Forks is a symbol from mother nature, telling us how we can flow together as one, eventually.”
But her power lies as much in the contradictions she embodies as in the unity she represents.
She bears the soft curves of a young Salish woman, but Seven Deers pointed out that “her bones” are formed of rock as old as the earth itself.
And she’ll endure where two rivers meet, not at the divergence suggested in the ‘forks’ from which her city takes its name.