With elegant strokes and a hulking chainsaw, Marina Cole is bringing her tribute to Canadian veterans to life out of an old fallen log in the gardens of the Qualicum Beach legion.
“This is such an emotional carving,” said Cole, who operates Chainsaw Spirit in Alberta.
“It’s overwhelming to be here with everyone else and hear their stories.
“As it evolves it’s just amazing what she can do with a chainsaw,” said Ryan Cochran, organizer of the Timberfest Carving Festival.
“It’s like giving that tree a second life,” said retired Canadian Forces Member, Ben Villeneuve.
Cole’s goal is to create a permanent bench, depicting a kneeling veteran, to give people a place to rest and remember.
The world-renowned carver is using her unique skills to say thank-you to the Canadian peacekeepers who helped rebuild her extended family’s home country of Croatia after its war for independence in the 1990s.
“This is such a small part of what I can do to give back but I’m just so thankful,” said Cole.
“And I’m so proud to be Canadian.”
Ben Villeneuve was one of those retired peacekeepers that she’s honouring. In military blues and medals, he posed next to the log before the carving got started Monday.
“She said will you come and kneel here and she took all the measurements and stuff so yeah, that’s me,” said Villeneuve about the carving.
Cole has travelled the world to create her carvings, but volunteered for this current project after the Timberfest carving competition slated for May 2020 in Qualicum Beach had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The Alberta woman still wanted her work to have a presence in this Island community she’s come to love.
“Volunteered her time, said I’m coming, I’m into this, let’s do this right,” said Cochran.
Cole will keep working on her tribute every day until Remembrance Day when it will be unveiled. She said she hopes will bring pride to the veterans who will see it.