Proposed sculpture in Abbotsford a memorial to three female farmworkers

A plan to create a memorial for three female farmworkers killed in a tragic vehicle accident four years ago will go before council in the near future.

An artist’s rendering of a memorial for three female farmworkers killed in a vehicle accident four years ago.

A plan to create a memorial for three female farmworkers killed in a tragic vehicle accident four years ago will go before Abbotsford council in the near future.

Last week, Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, presented the idea of “The Golden Tree” to the Abbotsford parks and recreation commission, which voted to support the monument and recommend it to council.

The Golden Tree would be a large metal sculpture that is an artistic representation of the three women, forever entwined, raising their arms to enlightenment and hope.

The concept was created after the women’s families told their stories to local artists Dean and Christina Lauze.

“This will be a significant sculpture, 16 to 18 feet tall on a four-foot platform at Mill Lake,” explained Dean.

He is no stranger to public art in Abbotsford, having created many murals and worked on the Unity Statue, located near city hall.

This latest structure will consist of a steel frame, a heavy coat of fibreglass to create a hard shell, and it will be covered with gold leaf.

“It will be a real golden tree.”

While yet to receive final approval for the location, Dean is optimistic the project will move forward.

“We are ready to go. I’m really excited about this project.”

Abbotsford Coun. Lynne Harris, who is also chair of the recreation commission, said the design was “beautiful.”

“We (the commission) were very impressed with the presentation and think it will be a great piece.”

It would serve as a reminder of a tragic incident and perhaps help prevent further tragedies.

On March 7, 2007 Amarjit Bal, Sarbjit Sidhu and Sukhvinder Punia died on their way to work while riding in an overloaded 15-passenger van.

Following the incident, the families approached the federation for assistance in achieving their wish to create a memorial.

The families’ desire was that the deaths of the women be remembered, and ultimately lead to improvements in the working conditions of all farmworkers.

If the sculpture receives council approval for the Mill Lake location, the families and the federation will begin the fundraising process.

The plan is to unveil the monument in late 2012.

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