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New sculpture stands as wildfire monument

PHOTO. Supplied. The Pillars of Wood Buffalo sculpture was donated to Keyano College by Syncrude and Suncor and was designed by artist Jeff De Boer.

As part of their commitment to building a strong and vibrant place to work, Syncrude and Suncor have donated a new piece of art to Keyano College.

Syncrude spokesperson, Will Gibson, told MyMcMurray that the companies contribute $6 million annually to different community projects and initiatives.

“We always look for opportunities to showcase the community and highlight all our features that make this a great place to work and live and enjoy,” said Gibson.

The sculpture titled “The Pillars of Wood Buffalo,” is a symbol of the community’s spirit that was seen through the recovery of the wildfire.

“We feel that the Pillars of Wood Buffalo captures the spirit beautifully,” said Gibson.  “The sculpture represents everything we love about the community, our region and its people. It captures the beauty, the strength and enduring optimism of the region.

Jeff De Boer was the artist and found inspiration by connecting the nature and industrial aspects of the city.

The Sculpture is made up of ten bronze metal pillars with trees carved into them.  There are three groups of pillars that represent communities and a central pillar representing leadership.

“I thought that every citizen during that terrible period, during the fire, behave liked a pillar,” said De Boer.  “Also post fire, people realized how strong their community was and how important each person was, and that made every person in Fort McMurray a pillar. So each person in my mind is actually that central figure and surrounded by communities.”

It also features a lighting element that Fred Russell, Vice President Community Relations for Keyano College, enjoys.

“It’s really quite stunning and very beautiful,” said Russell.

The lights can animate and change colours to put on a light show.

De Boer says it instills that Fort McMurray is a bright, light place that has a future.

“Our of darkness comes light and out of adversity comes a new kind of city, maybe a more cultured city, a more forward looking city,” said De Boer. They say people just go there to work but the people that I met were calling ti home. I think Fort McMurray is going to become more of a home for people.”