Winston Gereluk, of the Alberta Labour History Institute (photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer’s next public sculpture will display the history of labour

Etched stainless steel disc to be installed by the Red Deer River

After a decade, the path has finally been cleared for Red Deer’s next public sculpture.

A laser-etched “labour disc” is expected to be installed this fall in a public park between the Elements at River’s Edge building, at Gaetz Avenue and 55th Street, and the Red Deer River.

The nearly four-metre tall installation will consist of a large circular disc made of stainless steel, on a stand. The three-metre-wide disc will display notable moments in the history of labour in Central Alberta.

There will be images of nurses, railroad and construction workers, as well as important dates — such as National Aboriginal Day, and the National Day of Mourning, commemorating those who were injured or lost their lives to workplace accidents.

The project, first conceived by the Red Deer and District Labour Council in 2007, was supposed to be installed on the side of a building in 2012 to mark a century of labour in the province. Unfortunately, the owners sold the building upon which the disc was to be mounted, and a new location had to be found, said Karen Reay, of the district labour council.

After a few years of searching, the Government of Canada suggested placing the disc on a cement pad on Waskasoo Heritage Trail, in a new downtown park created by the Elements building, said Reay.

But this posed “installation issues,” since a steel stand had to be created to hold the disc.

On Friday, the local labour council received a cheque from the Alberta Lottery Fund, presented by Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner, to help pay for the stand. Reay said about half of the $20,000 cost was received from the fund. The rest will be made up from donations and sponsors.

The disc part of the sculpture, created by Calgary-area artist Karen Ho Fatt, cost a previous $30,000 to $40,000, which was obtained through donations from affiliate councils, unions and individual donors.

Schreiner congratulated the labour council for 105 years of contributions to Central Alberta.

Schreiner noted that council members hold a wide variety of jobs in the community — from health care to construction, communications to railway work. “I’m very proud to do my part to help this wonderful organization do the work they do,” said Schreiner, who once belonged to the AUPE (Alberta Union of Provincial Employees) at Michener Centre.

Winston Gereluk, of the Alberta Labour History Institute in Edmonton, said he’s glad, after years of hard work and “determined negotiations,” that the final hurdles are cleared for the historic sculpture to be installed in Red Deer later this year.

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