Collaboration sees UFV welding students adding Halq’eméylem learning opportunities to Shakespeare Garden
Collaboration runs deep at UFV, spanning all faculties. When welding instructor Matt Olafson was approached by English professor Melissa Walter to create a structure for UFV’s Shakespeare Reconciliation Garden, he recalled a similar project previously collaborated on: a plaque for the spindle art installation on the UFV Abbotsford campus.
“I worked with Teresa Carlson, UFV’s curator, a few years ago building some art installations for the Abbotsford campus,” Matt recounted. “When Melissa reached out to me about creating a plaque for the Shakespeare Reconciliation Garden, I thought ‘Hey I built one of these for Teresa, why don’t I build one of the same for you too?’ That way there is some continuity, and these pieces are all standardized and look the same across the university.”
Matt saw this project as a practical opportunity for his students to practise the skills they were learning in class while inspiring them to contribute to their school.
“They’re more productive when they’re inspired,” he explained, “I like to fill the little bits of free time that we have with hands-on creative stuff.”
For this project, Matt took some of his previous year’s welding foundation class and had them cut parts, fit, tack, weld, and even paint the plaque structure over summer, before bringing it to the Shakespeare Reconciliation Garden for installation.
Once installed, the final piece was adding the main interpretive stand, designed by Carlson. She also provided photos and information on the garden’s indigenous plants for Matt’s second task, to create stakes to identify plants in the garden.
Matt praised Theresa and Melissa’s initiative, “This was Teresa and Melissa’s brilliance, they wanted to share the traditional Halq’eméylem for the indigenous plants and what better way to do that than preface all the plants with informational stands?”
In addition to the practical experience, Matt and his students are proud of creating work that will stand the test of time.
Emphasizing the lasting impact of Melissa and Teresa’s efforts, Matt expressed, ‘I want to make sure that Melissa and Teresa’s energy are respected, and that their contributions to the university will be permanent.’