YORKTON - The official unveiling of the design to be incorporated into downtown bike locks was held Monday in City Centre Park.
“Yorkton has several multi-use pathways throughout the community and by providing additional bike lock stations in the downtown area that are safe and secure, we're hoping to increase the use of our pathways and bike lanes,” detailed a city release at www.yorkton.ca.
The need for bike lock locations was initially identified by the Yorkton Business Improvement District, the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce and local downtown shop owners after seeing more people looking for ways to get healthy and be outdoors following the start of the pandemic, noted the release.
A Downtown Parking Review was completed in 2021 and one of the recommendations from the review that was also accepted by City Council was to install more bike lock stations around the downtown area.
“We currently have a few bike lock stations in our downtown that were initially designed and installed as part of a Yorkton Active Transportation Collaborative project and with our new designs, we wanted to keep a similar style to ensure continuity, but we also wanted our new bike lock stations to be designed by an Indigenous artist,” detailed the release.
That effort moved forward after the city received a $12,000 Healthy Communities Initiative Grant, funded by the Government of Canada, to create and install more bike lock stations in the downtown area, explained Nicole Baptist, Bylaw and Safety Supervisor with the city.
In 2022, the City put out a Call for Indigenous Artists to submit their design for our new bike lock stations and Ruby Bruce was selected by the Adjudication Committee with the winning design.
From among the proposals received Ruby Bruce or Zhaawenoodin (Southern Wind), a Winnipeg-based artist and mother who originates from the Métis community of St. Laurent, Man. was selected to provide the final design.
In her works Bruce “concentrates her work on the interconnectedness of plants and wildlife, as well as the natural beauty of Canada's prairies,” noted the release. At Monday’s unveiling Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley said he has always like Indigenous art, noting it’s “always been one of my favourites growing up.”
Having the art incorporated into 25 bike lock locations in the city will be “a benefit to us all,” he said.
Trevor Acoose with the Yorkton Tribal Council said his organization sees it as a positive that the city “is taking on these types of initiatives,” adding they are proud to be involved as a way to share indigenous culture through art.
Monday Bruce said she has always been an advocate on putting elements of Indigenous art and culture in public spaces, and this project is an example of how that can be accomplished.
The Yorkton Bike Lock stations’ new design created by Bruce has been given the name Misâskwatômina, which is Cree for “the fruit of the tree of many branches”.
"I recreate what I see and feel, such as my kin, community, heritage, and culture, as well as local flora and fauna,” she stated in the release.
The art piece features the bear, the deer and bird tracks along with Saskatoon berries, explained the artist Monday.
All elements are Indigenous to Yorkton and the province of Saskatchewan.
In particular, the bear represents strength, bravery, and good health.
The deer represents vigilance.
The bird represents freedom, and their tracks represent the importance of physical movement and activity.
The Saskatoon berries pay homage to local plant life, while the Saskatoon branches signify the journey thus far and yet to come.
All elements encompass together creates Mino Pimatisiwin, also known as living a good life, she said.