It has been nearly four months since two community members came to Fernie Council with the belief that there are additional burial sites outside of St. Margaret’s cemetery, but their concerns have not been forgotten.
Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano, along with councillors Joe Warshawsky and Dan McSkimming, paid a visit to Cherished Memories Funeral Services last Thursday to take a look at John Gawryluk and Corlyn Haarstad’s research.
Gawryluk and Haarstad have spent the last 12 years gathering data and records from the Fernie and District Historical Society, the City of Fernie, B.C. archives, newspaper articles, and obituary notices. They believe that inaccurate record keeping and the improper designation of cemetery boundaries has led to the misplacement and/or removal of 393 people that died and were buried in Fernie.
The pair presented their findings at a Committee of the Whole meeting in January attended by dozens of concerned citizens.
“After the last meeting where John and his group presented to council, I made the comment that council is taking this whole issue very seriously,” stated Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano. “I have given it lots of thought, and now is an opportune moment when council and John and his group can work together to make a dedication happen.”
She went on to say, “I would like to see something really lovely that shows the concern that this present council feels. I just believe that now is the time and I think we can make it happen.
“I would love to have everybody, including the public, involved in giving us suggestions as to what they think is appropriate to show love and respect for the people of the past.”
Gawryluk and Haarstad had previously asked the City to consider the development of a memorial park or monument to honour the people buried in unmarked graves and appreciated Giuliano’s response to the issue.
“We’re happy that she came to see our research, because without seeing the research you can’t wrap your head around how much information there is,” commented Haarstad. “We’re looking forward to working with the City in the future to come up with a design on a monument that can be installed after the research has been complete.”
Haarstad also encourages anyone interested to stop by Cherished Memories to have a look through the records and data compiled by herself and Gawryluk. Giuliano said that council will hold a meeting sometime in June to further discuss a monument.