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Ruth Goldbloom honoured with virtual statue on Halifax waterfront

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WATCH ABOVE: A beloved Halifax philanthropist is being honoured with a statue with a tech twist. Global’s Steve Silva reports – Jul 25, 2017

Visitors to the Halifax waterfront can now view and adjust a virtual statue of the late Ruth Goldbloom using an app.

“It’s wonderful. It’s the source of tremendous pride because she made a very major contribution to the Halifax waterfront through Pier 21,” said Goldbloom’s widower, Richard, on Tuesday during a morning ceremony for the statue’s launch.

Goldbloom helped raise millions of dollars for health, education, and cultural institutions, according to the Canadian Museum of Immigration’s tribute.

The statue can be viewed at the statue of Samuel Cunard next to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market via an augmented reality, location-based app, an experience somewhat akin to using the Pokemon Go app.

The app is called The Whole Story Project.

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There are more than 40 virtual statues already up, and Goldbloom’s is the project’s first in Canada.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, whether it’s a small town or a big city, there are lots of statues of men, but there are not a lot of statues that mark women’s history or the achievements of women, and so it’s about reducing that gap,” Kelly Regan, the provincial minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, said.

She spoke at the the event, calling Goldbloom “a force of nature.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of mourners pay their respects to Halifax philanthropist

Elena Kurevija is a designer for Current Studios, the company that created the app.

“I work in a male-dominated industry, and to see that we can do something even like this to start to bring more awareness to all the things women have done in art, politics, geography — I think it’s really important,” she said.

Kurevija said she would like to see more physical statues of women to achieve a better balance of representation, but there are municipal planning, financial, and other challenges, so the project is one step to getting there.

Developing similar virtual statues can take days or months depending on the amount of detail desired.

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Kurevija was asked if a similar project could be employed for the issues involving the controversial statue of Halifax’s founder.

“If you can put something beside it that can be done immediately that’s going to show that there’s another side to the story, I think that could help some people,” she replied.

Barbara Goldbloom-Hughes, Goldbloom’s daughter, also attended the ceremony, calling the statue a “tremendous honour.”

She added that her grandchildren love technology, so to see their great-grandmother honoured this way “will be particularly special for them.”

The free app is available for Android and Apple devices.

Three more statues in three other Canadian provinces are going to be launched in the coming months, according to company spokesperson Cassidy Quinton.

The plan is to eventually let app users tag locations where they want to see potential future statues of other women.

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