An angel sculpture stands stoically in the middle of the Fernie EcoGarden as a lasting legacy to children who have passed away in the Elk Valley.
Organizers of the Angel Garden memorial Dee Hatina and Helen McAllister spoke on Saturday, May 23 as part of its official opening ceremony.
“Five years ago two well-loved families in the Fernie community lost loved ones at birth. The significance of the loss wasn’t lost on anyone, and as this community does, it rallied to support its fellow community members. In that, stories from other parents who had lost a baby or child emerged. Amidst the grief, Dee stepped up and recognized that a children’s memorial garden would serve many families in the Elk Valley,” said McAllister.
The garden was a collaborative effort between local volunteers and businesses including McAllister’s husband Dave Fuller as well as Dave Hus and Matt Trousdale.
Others on the list of those thanked included the Fernie Home Building Centre, Rocky Mountain Backhoe Services and Mike Hepher and Paul Reimer who created the angel statue.
“By now you have hopefully realized that though Dee and I spearheaded this, we couldn’t have done it without the very generous support of the community. The legacy of the Angel Garden is truly one that shows what community building is all about. We are very proud to say that it was built by the community, for the community to honour loved ones who were taken far too early from this world,” said McAllister.
McAllister noted in her emotional speech that the future growth of the memorial had been kept in mind when designing it. Over the years, vines planted will entwine together and create an overhead canopy, colourful flowers will flourish and bushes will grow tall to offer privacy to any who visit the memorial.
“We hope this children’s memorial garden will be used by the public at large and will add to this wonderful community. We have endeavoured to build it in such a way that it will stand the test of time. Despite the grief that comes form the loss of a child, we must honour the spirit that children give us,” said McAllister.
City of Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano was also in attendance to add to McAllister and Hatina’s opening speeches with the reading of a poem entitled “Tiny Angels.”
An offering of beverages, baked goods and sandwiches followed the official ribbon cutting.