A cultural exchange to encourage the continued relationships between the provinces

A dragon, a bull and panda bears — oh my!

Three ice carvings sit in front of the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre.

Four artists from Harbin, capital city of the Heilongjiang province of China, created the sculptures.

Each carving represents an animal from the Chinese zodiac, but takes on a deeper significance for the city’s Chinese New Year festival.

“The dragon represents 2012 as the Year of the Dragon, says Samatha Yang, executive administrator for the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre. “The panda is iconic in Chinese culture and the bull represents the centennial for the Calgary Stampede.

“Calgary is a cowboy city, so the bull was a nice addition for that.”

She says that the ice sculptors were flown to Alberta as a gift from Heilongjiang to honour the 30th anniversary of the twinning of the provinces.

Panda and her baby ice sculpture sits in front of the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre.
Photo by: Jessica Clark
Yang says, “The cultural centre was thinking for some time of honouring our twinning relationship with Heilongjiang, but we had difficulty acquiring the resources.

“Ice on Whyte in Edmonton has an ice sculpture competition every year. With the support of those artists, we brought in the four sculptors from Heilongjiang and extended the celebration into Calgary.”

The anniversary of the twinning relationship between the two provinces was September, but this year’s festivities were postponed to wait for snow.

Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Culture and Community Services, says, “The master carvers were sent to Alberta as a gift from Heilongjiang to share their craft with us, so all Albertans could enjoy it.

“In China they have some fantastic winter festivals,” she says. “Those festivals provide us with good examples of how we can improve our festivities here.”

The original twinning relationship was established with Heilongjiang in 1981 as a way of combining resources.

Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao and Culture and Community Services Minister Heather Klimchuk (standing with joined members of the Heilongjiang Snow and Ice Carving delegation against the backdrop of their creations at the Alberta Legislature.
Photo courtesy of Alberta Culture and Community Services

Klimchuk says: “”We as a province are reaching out to other trading partners. It’s very important we expand our base. There’s a lot of need for our products in China — whether it’s oil, gas, lumber, but also technology and agriculture and our cultural exchanges.

“We’ve established the Alberta-Heilongjiang Harvest Institute of Technology Research Innovation Centre in Harbin, China.

“We also have agreements on beef — helping them with their livestock improvement and food processing,” she says. “And in return, the cultural exchanges have been magnificent.”

The ice sculptures are on display for viewing on Daqing Square at the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre’s west entrance until Jan. 28.

jclark@cjournal.ca