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GNWT marking International Year of Cooperation with mural
Children, members of public invited to add hand prints

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, July 11, 2013

As a new GNWT government building continues to rise into the Yellowknife skyline over 49 Street, passersby may notice a public mural depicting some of the territories' most cherished landscape and environmental features.

NNSL photo/graphic

Cait Caines shows her handprint on the mural at the new GNWT building construction site on 49 Street. The piece of public art marks the year of International Water Cooperation. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were trying to bring attention to the mural this week because the art, which conveys a long river with cutouts of birds, fish and dragonflies, symbolizes the International Year of Water Cooperation.

According to the United Nations Water website, the international organization announced 2013 would be the year of water cooperation in order to promote the idea of "potential for increased cooperation" and "the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services."

As a result, Tasha Stephenson and Stephanie Yuill, both of the department's field support unit, along with summer student Keira Alty, were out on the street getting young children and members of the public to take hand paint prints and mark them on the mural.

Viewers may notice the animal cutouts are from another mural that was initiated by ENR in 2010 to mark International Year of Biodiversity. At that time, the mural was located on Franklin Avenue where the federal Gallery Building was being constructed. All of the wooden cutouts were designed by Stephenson and Yuill, cut out by the Sir John Franklin School shop class and painted by over 300 students from local schools. Since then, some of the pieces were moved to the 49 Street location by YK 1 chair and Clark Builders job site superintendent Al Shortt, although only about 150 of them were included because so many were damaged, said Yuill.

"It drives me nuts when people damage it," she said, pointing to some of the broken edges on one cutout of a bird. "We found it in 2010 when we did it."

The painting of the river was done last October. It is expected the mural will likely be on display until April of next year when the building is scheduled to be completed, said Yuill.

"So what we want to do now that we have the water, is we want to put hands all around it to represent the cooperation part," Yuill explained.

"The kids will get pledge forms that they can take home and we find that this will reinforce awareness of water cooperation as a learning tool."

Yuill and Stephenson said it was important that, despite Yellowknife being surrounded by "thousands and thousands of lakes," water cooperation still remains important.

"Especially in Canada, we so take our water for granted, though I think we are starting to less and less because of the mercury and what is coming down from the oil sands, but we still do," said Yuill, who pointed out turning off your faucet while brushing your teeth is one example of how water can be conserved.

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