New WWII monument inspires local art projects and discussions
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
New Westminster is full of historical sites and it’s about to receive another. A new monument based on the famous World War II photograph “Wait for Me Daddy” will be unveiled in Hyack Square on Columbia and 8th Street (the same place the photograph was taken) on October 4. Featuring three life-sized, bronze sculptures, the monument will depict the 1940 photograph of a five-year-old boy running away from his mother towards his soldier father, who is leaving for war.
To celebrate the unveiling, the City of New Westminster will be hosting a series of cultural events, including the upcoming War Stories Literary Gala that will be taking place at the Anvil Centre Theatre on October 3.
“We created a few cultural events leading up to the unveiling to bring attention to it, and also to open and create dialogue around the themes behind the photograph,” said Biliana Velkova, arts coordinator for the City of New Westminster. “The themes are family, separation, war, love, loss.”
War Stories Literary Gala will feature four local authors, including renowned author Annabel Lyon (The Golden Mean and The Sweet Girl), CBC Radio personality JJ Lee (The Measure of a Man), actor/author Marilyn Norry (My Mother’s Story), and Douglas College alumna Kathryn Para (Lucky).
Local author Diane Haynes came up with the idea for the literary gala, which she describes as a “Vancouver International Writers-style event.” Since War Stories celebrates the monument in New Westminster and the city is full of talented artists, Haynes decided to invite authors who had a connection to the city, either by living or working there, such as resident Lyon, who wrote most of her first novel at the New Westminster Public Library.
“With the theme of it being war stories, each one of the presenters has a story, an artistic and personal connection to war stories, and they all have a different take on it,” said Calvin Wharton, chair of the creative writing department at Douglas College and moderator for War Stories.
“These are not your typical war stories,” Haynes said. “That was something that was really important to me to bring forward with this event. A lot of what we’re going to hear is stories that don’t normally get told.”
At the event, there will be readings and presentations by the four authors as well as a panel discussion that explores the different aspects of war, the impact it has on people, and how it relates to today’s world.
“There’s going to be something in it for everyone,” Haynes said. “Everyone in the audience is going to have an opportunity to ask questions, challenge what’s been said, really get involved in the topics, and maybe tell their own stories as well.”
Black Bond Books will also be at the event so attendees can purchase the gala authors’ books and get their copies signed at the event. There will also be a reception afterwards with a jazz trio from Douglas College.
War Stories marks a historical moment for New Westminster because it is the first cultural event to be held in the new Anvil Centre Theatre.
“We just opened the building on September 14, so we’re really excited to feature the beautiful theatre in the building with this event,” Velkova said.
War Stories Literary Gala will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on October 3. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $10.40 for students and seniors, and can be purchased online at ticketsnw.ca.
As part of the “Wait for Me Daddy” cultural events, there is also a visual art exhibit called Love, Loss, and Loyalty: Community Reflections at the Anvil Centre Community Art Space, which features New Westminster artists’ works that reflect the themes of the “Wait for Me Daddy” photograph. The exhibit will be open until November 14.
Another cultural project is the Poetry Walk in Downtown New Westminster where local poets’ work featuring themes of the “Wait for Me Daddy” photograph has been displayed in businesses until October 19. A map for the walk is available online at newwestpcr.ca.
“Grab a coffee, take a walk, and discover some local poetry,” Velkova suggested.
Author Kathryn Para, who studied creative writing at Douglas College, will be doing a reading at the college before she speaks at War Stories. She will be reading at 10:30 a.m. on October 3 in room 1614 at the New Westminster campus. All students are welcome to attend the event.