‘A bit of solitude and comfort’: New garden sanctuary honors 2017-18 Broncos and provides space for reflection

“They’ll come and sit here, read a book, have coffee on their own. That’s what it’s all about – a bit of solitude and comfort.”

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HUMBOLDT — The space was built by volunteers, with dirty hands and prolonged effort.

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The new Humboldt Urban Garden Sanctuary – built as a tribute to the 29 people on the Humboldt Broncos bus that collided with a truck in 2018 and located at the local hospital – was designed to sit and reflect. It’s green, filled with plants, lush grass, symbolic butterflies.

“There’s something to be said for hard work, especially for special projects like this,” Celeste Leray-Leicht said Wednesday at the public dedication of the sanctuary.

Leray-Leicht, whose son Jacob Leicht was a Broncos player and one of 16 people killed in the April 6, 2018 collision, contributed his own work to the project. She placed stones by hand. She laid grass.

“It was definitely healing,” Leray-Leicht said. “It maybe helps balance that wheel, with the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. All of those elements came together in this project for me as a parent.

The ambitious project includes a 13-foot art installation by Humboldt artisan Murray Cook, who has a lifelong interest in metals and the things you can do with them. It is a stem, topped with flowers and monarch butterflies. He added a ladybug, as a whimsical touch.

Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Kaleb Dahlgren hugs Carol Brons at the unveiling of the new Broncos Memorial Garden outside the Humboldt District Health Complex.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Kaleb Dahlgren hugs Carol Brons at the unveiling of the new Broncos Memorial Garden outside the Humboldt District Health Complex. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

The 750-pound piece sat in his store for eight months, and sometimes he would walk past it and “a light would come on,” and an inspiration would take hold.

Monarch butterflies are a garden theme. Roger Nordick of Humboldt’s Communities in Bloom said they were creatures of grace and beauty, in transformation. Their life journey is fraught with uncertainty, he said, which reflects our own challenges and possibilities.

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“I’ve noticed, just working here, that a lot of people are already using (the garden),” Nordick said. “They come and sit here, read a book, have coffee by themselves. That’s what it’s all about: a bit of solitude and comfort.

Regina’s Christyn Palazzo, who designed the place, spoke about the symbolism and its connection to the Broncos. At the Sunset Patio – which will soon be adorned with a custom-made pergola in the shape of a monarch butterfly – a seated wall faces west as the sun sets. Sixteen groups of plants represent the 16 Broncos who died in the accident.

On either side of the patio, angel-wing flower beds will form an embrace.

At the adjacent Sunrise Patio, the seated wall faces east, at sunrise, and 13 groupings of plants represent the 13 survivors.

Moose Jaw’s Leslie Cornell is the project manager, and she and her husband Ron have spent countless hours at the sanctuary while working with donated materials and a parade of volunteers, who show up to do all the work at hand. on a given day.

Cornell Design & Landscaping is working on some final touches ahead of the unveiling of the new Broncos Memorial Garden outside the Humboldt District Health Complex.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
Cornell Design & Landscaping is working on some final touches ahead of the unveiling of the new Broncos Memorial Garden outside the Humboldt District Health Complex. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

She remembers the day they got a skid steer loader and dug the ground, then kept breaking it up.

“At 5 a.m. every day they would announce on the radio that we were here, innovating,” she said Wednesday. “I could hear it on my radio because I was on the skid steer, and you saw the cars go by and slow down. It was very impactful. »

Life, she added, is filled with triumphs and tragedies, and she hopes this new space can be used to mark both. Celebrations of life can take place here, she says, as can moments of reflection.

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“All the work and all the symbolism that goes into it is much appreciated,” Leray-Leicht said. “All of the different businesses, organizations and volunteers – the people who have come together to make this happen – are so appreciated by my family and all families.

“I go for bike rides every morning at this time of year. I can cycle with it and enjoy it every day, whenever I want.

The project started in 2018 with an idea conceived by Scotts Canada. Landscape Alberta, Landscape Saskatchewan and Communities in Bloom have adopted the concept. They found space in the hospital and people willing to devote time to it.

The project was propelled by the time and materials donated — “a lot of thought and a lot of hard work,” Nordick said.

Carol Brons, whose daughter Dayna died in the crash (she was the team’s athletic therapist), spoke on Wednesday about her own dirty hands and the healing aspects of physical labor in that garden.

She was grateful, she says, for the many people who contributed. Leray-Leicht too.

“We did a little memorial garden in our yard,” Leray-Leicht said, “and I did something similar – we did 15 white daylilies and a rose for Dayna, then 13 yellow ones for the surviving miracles. I love hearing about the symbolism that has gone into all of this, from landscape artists to Murray. So much thought goes into it. It’s love, isn’t it?

kemitchell@postmedia.com

twitter.com/kmitchsp

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