CALGARY (660 NEWS) — It has now been more than five years since the lives of five young Calgarians were tragically cut short.
Lawrence Hong, Jordan Segura, Joshua Hunter, Zackariah Rathwell and Kaiti Perras were killed at a house party celebrating the end of the university semester on April 15th, 2014.
To ensure their memories and legacies live on, ground has broken on a memorial garden in South Glenmore Park.
“Thinking about the kids and all that they would love about it, is really good. It’s not just sad,” said Perras’ mother Shannon Miller.
The project was announced earlier this year, and has generated more than $250,000 in donations.
It will not be just a normal garden, as it is billed as a space for music, performance and inclusion.
Along with five flowering trees honouring each victim, there will be special features representing their interests and talents.
“Being here and seeing what can go on and the programming, and little kids hanging out with the instruments and having some good performances and just connecting this community,” said Barclay Hunter, Josh’s father. “We’ve had people from the beginning that have been behind us and beside us and supporting this, and it’s been amazing and it’s been a big part of our healing.”
Instruments bring to mind the musical talents of Hunter and Rathwell, a stage at the centre of garden represents Perras’ love of dance and performing, benches and gathering spots show how Segura was focused on spending time with others to make them feel better, and the overall idea of transforming this area reflects Hong’s desire to be a city builder.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi was on hand to help with the groundbreaking as well, and said he will never forget what it was like when he heard the news over five years ago.
In April 2014, 5 young people in Brentwood lost their lives. Today, we broke ground on a community-led initiative, Quinterra Legacy Garden, in their honour.
— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) June 12, 2019
“We had gone through the flood, we thought that we had been through the worst that we could get hit with, and I remember when this happened. I got a call saying there’s been this horrible tragedy in the evening, and all I could think was what are we going to do for the families, what are we going to do for the community,” said Nenshi. “They were artists, they were dreamers, they believed in community, they believed in making the world better and that’s really what we lost on that day.”
Construction on the garden will continue through the summer, and hopefully, it will open in the fall.
However, there is still a need for some more donations.
“We haven’t quite reached our fundraising goal, so I would love for a thousand Calgarians to give five dollars each. Give up that coffee, give that five dollars to the Parks Foundation Calgary. You can talk about it on social media using #CoffeeForQuinterra and you can go to the Parks Foundation Calgary website to give.”
Mayor Naheed @nenshi asks for people to keep donating to the project. Wants to get #coffeeforquinterra trending to encourage people to toss in five bucks (the cost of a coffee) to help with fundraising. #yyc pic.twitter.com/9iPi2BUXvp
— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) June 12, 2019
Miller noted it will likely be very tearful when she first steps foot in the completed garden, but it also conveys a sense of hope.
“The gratitude, the love, the happiness and I really feel like the kids’ spirits will be with us. They already are here today, but when it’s complete I think everybody is going to feel them being present”
Moving forward, the families hope it will be a happy place that can be enjoyed by all.
“I hope they love it. I hope it’s packed all the time,” Miller said. “I hope people are using it for different things, whether it’s dance or music or yoga or drum circles. I just really hope that everybody understands how welcome they are to come and use this space, in whichever manner that they so choose. Whether it’s to be quiet and contemplative, or just come and have fun and laugh. Our kids loved to laugh, they all had amazing smiles, so if we can see people are enjoying this space it will really mean a lot to us.”
For more information on the garden, including how to donate, click here.