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Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

Alberta monolith's message

A towering stainless steel monolith set up along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta comes with a message.

The three-metre-tall structure, which reflects its surroundings, is one of many that have been found around the world in recent months. Monoliths have been discovered on a California trail, a Utah desert and at sites across Canada.

Many have popped up without explanation, but the woman who built the one in southern Alberta says she wanted to draw attention to the threats the area is facing as the province moves to open a vast stretch of the mountains to open-pit coal mining.

"This land holds the bones and dreams of our ancestors. This soil remembers the thunder of buffalo hooves and ... still fosters wild grasses. These mountain-fed waters are the lifeblood of southern Alberta," Elizabeth Williams wrote in an Instagram post on her wildstonestories page earlier this month.

"They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat," she wrote.

"The shiny beacon is not the focal point, but the land, which it reflects."

Williams, who couldn't work as a massage therapist during COVID-19 restrictions, said she's been watching some of the provincial government's recent decisions.

"I felt compelled to take action," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Williams is most concerned about the potential for mining along the eastern slopes and the reallocation of water rights in the area.

"It's staggering to me so few Albertans are aware that this is happening," she said.

She wanted to do something to inspire others to pay attention and take action.

Similar concerns were raised this week by Alberta country singer Corb Lund, who criticized the plan for an area that contains the headwaters for freshwater on which millions depend. Coal mining can release selenium, a highly toxic element already poisoning watersheds downstream of coal mines in British Columbia. Paul Brandt, another country music star from Alberta, added his voice to protest the coal mines Thursday.

Williams, who hopes her monolith adds to the growing conversation in Alberta, said she built it after talking to an artist, ordering the stainless steel and borrowing a welding shop. She installed it with the help of volunteers after getting permission from private landowners to put it on their property.

"I thought, 'If I make this to last, if I make this extra beautiful and I get it on private land, it can stay and it can become a beacon for the curious.'"



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