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Story scavenger hunt encourages people to reconnect with nature

A new art project, which is a story scavenger hunt, allows those in the neighbourhood, fellow Canmorites and visitors alike to follow the story and reconnect with nature

CANMORE – The forest in the Peaks of Grassi has been given a pop of art.

A new art project, which is a story scavenger hunt, allows those in the neighbourhood, fellow Canmorites and visitors alike to follow the story and reconnect with nature.

The aim of the project was to showcase the communities proximity to nature, closeness with wildlife and the sense of belonging in the neighbourhood.

“Some core concepts that kept coming up for all the participants was the feeling of living in nature and also this feeling of closeness and unification in the community,” said facilitating artist for the project, Tangle McClaron of Entangled Puppetry.

“It needed to be interactive too – to be engaging for families – and had to be collaborative so they could bring in the community to build the project.”

The story scavenger hunt weaves its way through the forest at Peaks of Grassi and the physical aspects of the project consist of 40 painted rocks and 40 painted tree cookies that were painted by more than 70 community participants.

Another aspect of the project was a geometric line drawing of the mountain Ehagay Nakoda, which the community sits below. The drawing was then taken to Grade 5 students at Morley Elementary School to paint. McClaron said it was important to the participants to highlight the Indigenous connection to the community.

“I didn’t know the mountain itself was named Ehagay Nakoda. I knew the names of all the peaks but I didn’t realize the mountain itself has a Stoney name, which translates to “The Last Nakoda.’”

The decorated cookies and rocks feature footprints of five main characters: a bear, magpie, deer, human and the mountain Ehagay Nakoda. Each character has their own story and each story is woven together to create a larger interconnected tale. The project will remain in place until the spring.

“We’re hoping to encourage people when they’re out walking their dogs, walking with their friends or they have visitors to go out and engage with the story hunt – to go around and explore their neighbourhood in a new way,” said McClaron.

“You know look up, look down, and maybe take in their neighbourhood through new eyes and garner a new appreciation for this place that is home to humans but all the wildlife and that has also been home to the Indigenous people for thousands and thousands of years.”

McClaron was eager to highlight the positive impact the project had on participants' morale and how the neighbourhood was united in the artistic endeavour, which was the goal of the second iteration of the Building Neighbourhoods Builds Community program.

“It was an opportunity to bring people together and to show how a small act – community members painted one or two rocks – but then when we put all those pieces together it creates something much larger and beautiful.”

The Building Neighbourhoods Builds Community program also serves as an avenue for local artists to highlight aspects of the Town through public art.

“The Town creating these opportunities for artists has been so impactful. Artists have a responsibility to show where we have been, where we are and where we can go and public art in a community gives us a forum to tell stories, celebrate and reflect.

"Public art is something tangible. It is something we can experience first-hand and engage with in a sensory way. For the Town to seek out these opportunities for artists and engage with the community was extremely valuable.”

Evan Buhler

About the Author: Evan Buhler

Evan Buhler is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter who joined the Outlook in 2019. A native of Calgary, he previously worked in Salmon Arm, B.C.
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