A community group is fundraising to purchase a 2018 ArtsAlive sculpture in honour of former mayor Nils Jensen.
The initiative actually started privately in February to help motivate Jensen in his fight against cancer. It was put on hiatus after he died on April 7.
Now the idea has new momentum – partly in thanks to the Kind Kids Club’s recent Kindness Day – after former Oak Bay councillor Michelle Kirby posted to social media that for Kindness Day she would donate to the fund that was started. The pricetag is $18,000 (the same as for most ArtsAlive sculptures) and so far there is $5,500 raised, said Kirby, who opted not to run for re-election in 2018. Kirby and fellow former councillor Tom Croft started the idea together. A plaque commemorating Jensen would accompany the publicly mounted sculpture.
“I would love to be able to go to [Nils’ wife] Jean and tell her we’ve purchased it and it’s dedicated to Nils,” Kirby said.
The art piece identified is the bronze ‘M’akhotso sculpture (Mother of Peace) by Linda Lindsay that was outside the Oak Bay library in 2018. The plan is to put a plaque next to the sculpture and have Jensen permanently honoured.
“My idea for a Kindness Day activity was to make a donation to the Mayor’s Arts Fund, so I posted on Facebook that’s what I was going to do as my Kindness Day activity, and now that’s been noticed,” Kirby said.
Jensen was thrilled with the idea of getting the sculpture and even tried to take on the fundraising himself, Kirby said.
“He was moved, he was keen… but then he was so sick, we had to take it away so he could focus on his wellness,” she added.
Jensen liked that the ‘M’akhotso piece is about community and peace, values that he held himself.
“He was all about community, and now we recognize that every community event isn’t quite the same because Nils isn’t there,” Kirby said.
Donations to the new Mayor’s Legacy Fund for the Arts at Oak Bay municipal hall are charitable and offer a tax receipt.
The impetus and the passion for the Mayor’s Legacy Fund is to honour Jensen, said Oak Bay Arts Laureate Barbara Adams.
“That’s the first thing we’ll do with this fund, is honour Nils Jensen,” said Adams. “We’re trying to raise funds firstly to honour Nils but also as an ongoing arts legacy fund to help raise the profile of art, and art that we can purchase.
“Jensen’s legacy is the arts in Oak Bay, ArtsAlive, public art and a raising of the consciousness in Oak Bay. It was because of Jensen that people thought to do this. He was a champion of the arts in Oak Bay, and everybody knows that.”