It’s always very gratifying to see a work of love come to fruition and last week I had the pleasure of being part of something that was truly love in motion. It was the opening of the Angel Garden and it is the hope of the people involved that this site will be well used for contemplation and visual enjoyment.
For me this remarkable Angel Garden is a tribute and a great demonstration of Love. Love is difficult to define and definitely one of life’s mysteries but every now and then something beautiful like this Angel Garden happens and proves how Love is abundant and eternal. There is a lot of love here. Love from friends and Love from people that understand and appreciate the meaning behind this project and all the Love that is still there for those whose lives God took home too early. I think as this is a dedication to those little ones that are gone it is good to remember what that little bear Winnie the Poo said, “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you.”
The Angel Garden was initiated by Dee Hatina who brought in her good friend Helen McAllister on board the two women easily convinced others that their project could happen and it did. I am including some text of the speech that Helen gave at the opening because it tells so eloquently how and why their plan became a reality.
Helen said, “Five years ago, two well-loved families in the Fernie community lost a loved one at birth.” The significance of the loss was not lost on anyone, and as the Elk Valley community does, it rallied to support their friends and fellow community members. Stories from other parents who had lost a baby or child emerged. Amidst the grief, Dee Hatina stepped forward recognizing that a children’s memorial garden would serve many families and their friends in the Elk Valley. When Dee approached me with the idea, I did not need much convincing that her vision was a worthy one. For those of you who know Dee well, I am sure you will all agree that she is generous of nature, compassionate beyond words, and most especially modest.
The initial phase of setting up a children’s memorial garden involved fundraising. We are very grateful to all those that helped with the community garage sale and donated to the online auction. Rachel Dortman and Dee crocheted up the most gorgeous little baby booties and all proceeds from the sales of Happy Soles went to the fundraising effort. Keya White volunteered her graphic design talents to advertise for ongoing donations to the community at large. Dee and I applied for a variety of grants, and the City of Fernie readily came on board to support the project with allocated funds from the Columbia Basin Trust. The East Kootenay Community
Credit Union also offered financial support. Other personal financial donations gave us The EcoGarden Advisory Committee kindly offered a location for the arbour to be situated, as well as additional funds – thank you to Mary Cosman, Dawn Deydey, and Jennifer Heath. As we worked on the design of the Angel Garden and the steps needed to obtain a building permit, we quickly realized just how much it would cost to build our vision. My husband though, simply said, “Well, I will volunteer to build it.” and before we knew it, our Dream Team of volunteer builders formed.
We are forever indebted to David Fuller, Dave Hus, and Matt Trousdale. The workmanship and commitment to the project is fully evident in the structure before you. It really was a pleasure to work with each of you, and we are very humbled by your generosity. Additionally, Darren Hatina assisted with the technical engineering requirements for the permit.
We have many others businesses and individuals to thank for their donations and discounts on materials and labour, including:
– Ryan Ingram and the Fernie Home Hardware Building Centre!
– Rocky Mountain Backhoe Services!
– Morrissey Aggregates!
– Fernie Ready Mix!
– D-Can Concrete!
– Morris Manufacturing!
– Mow and Snow!
– Summit Works!
– Shaun Clarke Enterprise Landscape!
– Fernie Rentals!
– Lorenzo Rousselle!
– Margie Sutherland!
– Rigby Signs!
– Fernie Forge for the memorial angels!
– Mike Hepher & Paul Reimer, artists and builders of the sculpture!
– and last but not least, the countless volunteers who helped with fundraising, staining, planting
and landscaping, and providing for today’s celebration. You are too numerous to mention by
name, but we are very thankful for your support and contributions.
By now you have hopefully realized that while Dee and I spearheaded this project and kept it moving forward, we could not have done it without the very generous support, donations, and time from a whole community of people. The legacy of the Angel Garden is truly what community capacity building is all about and we are certainly very proud to be able to say that it was made by the community for the community and most especially to honour the darling loved ones who were taken far too early from this world. We hope the space and place we have created will be used by many, whether it be to honour a little angel, reflect, or gather with family and friends. We hope this children’s memorial garden will be enjoyed by the public at large and will add to this wonderful community.