While crews maneuvered Mother Bears Pray for Earth Healing into place in front of the historic CPR station building in Railtown last week, its creator Stewart Steinhauer was watching via a nearby cell phone.
“Looks like it went smoothly,” the Cree sculptor told the Star. “I appreciate seeing the real-world test of my engineering process, and I’m happy my bears have found a new home in Nelson.”
The bench-sitting ursine pair have been located outside city hall for the past year, and until recently their future was uncertain. The bears will now be displayed beside two historic diesel locomotives, a move made possible by the Chamber of Commerce. Executive director Tom Thomson was on-hand to welcome them as the crane lowered them to the ground.
“We’re really looking forward to having the bears down here,” said Thomson. “We were really hoping that we could find a long-term solution for keeping them in Nelson. The work is obviously world-class, and the bears seem to really connect with our community.”
And quite often that connection is literal. Steinhauer said passersby are routinely compelled to hug, climb on and pose for pictures beside the bears—which is exactly what we wants.
“I want people to feel like they can sit on it, that’s why there’s a bench. I love seeing kids climbing over it, touching the bears. There’s something about stone that really draws them in. They love it.”
And while people are communing with his creation, he’d like them to also think about the devastation humanity has wreaked on the environment. Personally he feels pessimistic about the dour state of the natural world.
“We’re all in this together, but it seems like we’re sinking and not rising. That’s a bit discouraging.”
He thinks the world could benefit from a more maternal influence.
“My current work is looking at human consciousness and the development of the old Cree matrifocal society. There was a serious effort to destroy it, which is what the residential schools were all about, because the Europeans wanted to replace it with a patriarchal society.”
Since that system doesn’t seem to be working, he thinks perhaps it’s time to channel a more feminine energy.
“I’m drawn to women’s power because it’s so much different than men’s power. If you look at a newborn infant and her mother, inside the mother’s psychology you won’t find a shred of an intention to dominate or control. She’s there in service.”
He believes that’s the relationship we need to cultivate with the planet.
“She’s got the power, but she has a totally different way of using it. And that’s the direction we’ve got to go if we want to get out of this huge hole we’re digging.”
The bears have inspired Thomson to examine his relationship with nature.
“We wonder about the bears coming into our community but really we live in their habitat, and we need to respect that. We have to make sure we maintain a positive relationship with the bears.”
Thomson joked he hopes they’re praying for more than just Earth.
“Maybe they can pray for the long-term viability of the CPR station along with the Earth.”