Raffle raises $3,500 for Elders’ Caring Shelter
Nick Kuhl – GP INK!
Posted 14 hours ago
Mary Helen Ferris, Benita Galandy and Carmen Haakstad surround “Esquao The Seeker”, a painting donated by Haakstad to raise funds to support Grande Prairie’s Elders’ Caring Shelter. Photo: Olivia Kachman, Visual Cocktail
All 700 tickets have been sold in a fundraising raffle involving a local painting, with the Elder’s Caring Shelter of Grande Prairie set to benefit – to the tune of $3,500 in proceeds.
Chief volunteer Mary Helen Ferris sold the few remaining $5 tickets, for Carmen Haakstad’s five-and-a-half foot tall painting, called Esquao: The Seeker, during last Tuesday’s open mike night at Tito’s. It will be raffled off during a ceremony Sat. Feb. 14.
“The image just sort of came out of the wood and I thought it was just the perfect one for this raffle,” said Haakstad, who is the executive director of community relations at Grande Prairie Regional College.
“It means a lot of food; it means better service for the Elders,” said Benita Galandy, president of the Elder’s Caring Shelter, about the $3,500 which will go toward their fundraising goal of $12,000.
The painting came about after Mary Helen Ferris, one of 17 residents at the shelter and chief volunteer on the fundraiser, called Haakstad and asked if he would contribute a piece of art toward the cause.
“He said nope, I don’t have anything to donate – but I will make something especially for the shelter,” she explained.
“I said yes because I think it’s a great cause and I have great respect for the Elders. I was more than happy to do it,” Haakstad said. “Painting is really sort of my passion that I enjoy during my evenings and weekends when I get time to do it.”
Haakstad describes the oil on wood painting as a woman looking towards the moon, while the Elders came up with the title of Esquao, meaning woman in Cree, as a symbolic measure.
“Esquao in many languages has different meanings, but essentially it’s the woman who leads,” said Ferris, who has known Haakstad for more than 30 years. “(Haakstad) wanted this as an honour to the Aboriginal women.”
In Aboriginal culture, the Seeker is said to signify looking for home, clothing and food, as well as searching for the essentials of what is found within the human spirit.
“Since the shelter supplies all of those four needs it’s very unique,” Ferris said. “It has an amazing effect on people. Some people have come with chequebooks from businesses and some people have come with pop bottle money that they raised.”
Ferris said that various residents and visitors, as well those who have viewed the painting on display around the city, have seen different colours and themes at different times.
“It’s kind of neat because it is people talking about it without me being around. It’s very heartwarming. It’s what I find to be the joyful part of art,” Haakstad said.
“I mean I enjoy painting, the process of doing it, but it’s nice, it’s a bonus, when people see things that I may not see. I think art should communicate and if it communicates to a person on another level – that to me shows the work is successful.”
Saturday’s event will feature bannock and tea, live music and an appearance by Haakstad, who will sign the painting for the winner and tell the story of the Seeker. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.