Almost 1,400 origami cranes are now on display at the community centre, marking the second-year anniversary of provincial closures due to COVID.
“Little did we know at that time how COVID would affect us all,” said Lise Andreana, chair of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, which undertook the project of the 1,000 cranes in January. It is intended to honour and thank the many essential workers who have contributed to our health and safety during the last two years, while putting their own health on the line so that critical services and operations continued.
“This art installation, featuring colourful origami cranes,” said Andreana, “honours those unsung heroes.”
She saw it as a simple project to execute, but one that would make a large, beautiful impact for all to enjoy.
At last Thursday’s opening of the display, she shared the ancient Japanese legend that inspired it, explaining the crane, considered a mystical or holy creature, is rumoured to live for a thousand years. It promises anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods, or bring happiness and good luck. They can be made by one person or by several in a group.
It involved 45 volunteers to make it happen, she said, spending hundreds of hours folding, stringing, and installing the cranes, including many made by Lord Mayor Betty Disero and CAO Marnie Cluckie, who also helped coordinate the installation with town staff. “Marnie and Betty know first-hand how hard it was,” she said, thanking them for their enthusiasm.
Disero told the crowd of about 40 people gathered for the occasion that a lot of people were afraid at the start of the pandemic, and uncertain about what the future would hold.
But there was a group of people that worked and put the community ahead of themselves, frontline workers, healthcare workers and emergency services, who put themselves at risk to keep others safe, and who have earned our gratitude, said Disero, and who deserve the tribute the display represents, she said.
“All of us, collectively over the last two years, have pulled together and done what we need to do to get through this pandemic,” she said, calling on everyone present to say thank you to any frontline workers, whether a nurse or doctor, an EMS, a pharmacist or a grocery store worker.
“Please tell them thank you, and please be kind when you speak to them. I know in my heart of hearts we do appreciate the work they’ve done for all of us. They really need our support.”
Although the installation is complete, there is work still to be done, and the help of the public is still required.
“The art installation is scheduled to run through April 7,” said Andreana.
After the show ends, strings of cranes will be donated to essential workers. The public is invited to nominate an essential worker to receive a strand of origami cranes from the exhibit.
It doesn’t have to be an essential worker as designated by the province, she said.
“You can nominate anyone you consider essential, anyone who helped you get through the last two years. We all have someone in our lives who has helped us during the pandemic.”
Send suggestions in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.