March 12, 2019 2:36 pm
Updated: April 5, 2019 5:56 pm

Legacy Garden being created by families of 5 Calgarians lost in Brentwood tragedy

WATCH: It's been nearly five years since a horrible tragedy in Calgary’s community of Brentwood took the lives of five young people. Now their families are creating hope and healing with the city's first dedicated musical garden. Jill Croteau reports.

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It’s how they have found hope out of tragedy. Nearly five years after a horrible crime took the lives of Kaiti Perras, Josh Hunter, Jordan Segura, Lawrence Hong and Zackariah Rathwell, the families have come together to create a legacy garden.

All five were killed at an end-of-the year university party in the Brentwood neighbourhood on April 15, 2014.

READ MORE: Parents of Brentwood tragedy speak out: ‘we share pain, but also share joy’

The Quinterra Legacy Garden has been in the works for the past three years. It will be Calgary’s first fully dedicated musical garden and performance stage.

The garden will be located in South Glenmore Park.

It will be a space to heal and remember the lost lives but it’s also a gift to Calgarians who helped them through those dark days in April 2014.

Josh Hunter’s Family

Jill Croteau

Josh Hunter’s parents, Barclay and Kelly, are grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community.

“We had a lot of support,” Barclay said. “When you go through something like we have, when people came out, it was amazing and it blew me away.

“Finding a way to give back and acknowledge that is important.”

Josh Hunter

Family Supplied

“It’s feel good,” Kelly said. “You can stay in a sad place and sometimes it’s hard to get out, but when you see other people be happy… I hope they’ll read the signs as to why it’s there.”

The Quinterra Legacy Garden will house interactive musical and play elements along with a 30-foot-wide stage for programming such as music, dance, theatre, spoken word, yoga and healing circles.

The features resonated with the family of Kaiti Perras. Kaiti’s mom, Shannon Miller, said Kaiti would love this space.

Kaiti Perras

Family Supplied

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“I can see little kids up there dancing on the stage and that makes me smile because of Kaiti and her dancing,” Miller said.

“I’m excited. There were times I thought: ‘I can’t do this,’ because it brings up triggers and memories but we are all dedicated to this process.

“The hard part is done and now we get to share and watch it grow.”

READ MORE: Timeline of the Brentwood tragedy

Perras’ father, Gregg, said it’s helped the healing process.

“I look at it as a progression in the healing.”

“It’s always been about the kids and their shared artistic passions,” Gregg added.

“This is a place Kaiti would come to. She would want to teach dance here and there are opportunities for that — artists in residence — and it just resonates.”

Kaiti Perras’ family

Jill Croteau

Perras’ step-mom, Kam Laraway, hopes it will be a place to honour the five kids and also where Calgarians can make their own memories.

“I want it to be a place of vibrancy and life and a legacy for all these young people.

“It’s artistic. It’s a beautiful view and it represents who they were and that’s important for us to have that.

“It’s not a sad place. For us it’s a place for people to come and feel better,” Laraway said.

Design plans for Quinterra Legacy Garden

Bassett Associates Landscape Architecture

Design elements will represent the number five. There are five branches, leaves and roots in the garden logo and a five-pointed star on the performance stage, as well as five chairs placed in front of five flowering trees planted in the garden.

“It represents the kids’ spirit,” Miller said.

The families are launching a fundraiser to help the park become a reality, hoping to break ground in the spring.

Jordan Segura’s mom, Patty, said the Legacy Garden will be a place she will visit often.

Jordan Segura

Family Supplied

“I feel really happy we are doing this and I can’t wait for it to be complete,” Segura said.

“I may come every day on my lunch and I can’t wait to see people here.”

Jordan’s brother, Julien Segura, said the experience of creating the park has been a positive distraction from their loss.

Jordan Segura’s Family

Jill Croteau

“It will bring some hope that something bright can come out of it — not the doom and gloom — this is something good for people to talk about,” Julien said.

READ MORE: Matthew de Grood found not criminally responsible in Brentwood murders

Patricia Meilleur, a Calgarian touched by this tragedy, didn’t know these five young people but felt compelled to volunteer to help the families realize this vision.

“When this terrible thing happened, I felt tremendous empathy… and I wanted to extend it and I fortunately had a chance to do that,” Meilleur said.

“It’s going to be groundbreaking not only for people involved but the whole of Calgary.”

Lawrence Hong’s parents, Lorenzo and Marlene, are anxious to see the garden serve as a place for play, inspiration, creativity, reflection and contemplation.

Lawrence Hong’s Family

Jill Croteau

“It’s more of an uplifting feeling and find some peace in the whole space and I like it. I look forward to coming here more often,” Lorenzo said.

Lawrence Hong

Family Supplied

“Peace, healing and giving back to community because that’s what Lawrence was working hard on,” Marlene said.

“The families are coming together and are trying to give something back to community and it’s not so much about the memory of Lawrence, but it’s the attitude and wanting to provide something that enriches our lives here in Calgary,” Hong’s brother, Miles said.

Zackariah Rathwell’s mom, Ronda-Lee Rathwell, said all the features represent the way the five lived.

Zackariah Rathwell

Family Supplied

“It’s just beautiful. It’s light and the kids were light.”

Zackariah Rathwell’s Family

Jill Croteau

“I love the idea people coming to this space and enjoying it and playing music,” Rathwell said.

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