Approaching the entrance of the Prince George campus of the College of New Caledonia, the latest art installation can be seen – if you look up.
The main entrance has been beautified with a significant piece called Confluence that sees two women on either side of a traditional fishing basket from which two rivers emerge and crisscross to travel along the expanse of the soaring ceiling.
This is one of seven pieces that highlights the diverse peoples and vast region the college serves, celebrating the four seasons, connection to the land and a strong sense of community.
Aaron Harder, who created Confluence, is a carpenter by trade who grew up in Quesnel and now is a sculptor fabricator.
“I was always quite creative and would always keep pushing the creative envelope in what I would build and eventually I pushed it too far and said to myself ‘you know what? I wanted to get creative beyond what’s possible in people’s homes or in commercial spaces' and realized this is the direction I wanted to go.”
Confluence is a beautiful piece that clearly tells a story but there is also a deeper meaning.
“It’s a sculpture that honours the Indigenous cultures and nations and also it is meant to represent our societies merging together and how that bond is strengthened through the interweaving,” Harder said during the celebration held earlier this week to officially introduce the art installation.
“The Indigenous women are looking at the merge,” Harder said. “The younger one is looking up to understand the history and the other one is looking directly into it with hope for the future.”
During the process to come up with the piece, Harder had meetings with several elders to discuss ways to bring about reconciliation.
“And during those meetings with the elders we came up with the idea to honour the goal,” Harder said, who grew up near an Indigenous community. “It was a really cool experience and brought me right back to my childhood when elders would stop in and have tea with us and teach us a bit about their traditional methods.”
Another artist whose mural is prominently displayed on the wall beside the staircase at CNC is Lee-Anne Chisholm, painter, who is married to Aaron Harder the sculptor.
“It was so special that we could each have our separate pieces and yet they are so cohesive,” Harder said.