“Oh, I’d love to be creative but I’m not.”

This is a sentiment Marlene Schaly, an arts educator, is used to hearing. To celebrate Canada’s 150, she decided she wanted to empower people across the country to tell their stories in a creative way. To do that, she launched the entirely volunteer-run Art Tree Project.

The Art Tree Project is a chance for anyone to gather their friends, family, or community together and create a tree of life that celebrates their unique stories and brings out their inner artist.

“If anyone was to look at [Canada] from a satellite view, we are a country of trees,” says Shaly. “It was very easy to pick that image as the unifying image of the project.”  

The first step of getting involved in the Art Tree Project is identifying a community to create a tree with. Art Tree Project participants include families, schools, community churches, nonprofits, First Nations, libraries, and more.

“There are different groups in our community that we’re connected to, so it’s a matter of finding where is your connection to your community,” explains Shaly.

From there, participants can download an order form online or pick up an Art Tree at a participating location. The trees cost $100 (taxes and shipping included) and are printed on archival paper, ideal for any medium from wire to clay to paint. Schools groups interested in participating are eligible for a $20 discount.

Then it’s just a matter of getting to work. For those stuck creatively, the Art Tree Project has plenty of advice on their website including getting started tips and videos of finished art trees. The completed artworks will be displayed at participating community art shows and on the Art Tree Project’s Facebook page throughout the year.