For the past several years, five families have been working on a labour of love, a project borne out of grief.
Kaiti Perras, Josh Hunter, Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura and Lawrence Hong were killed at an end of the year graduation party at a house in the Calgary community of Brentwood in April of 2014.
In the years after their deaths, the families came together to create a lasting legacy for them. The Quinterra Legacy Garden was created and is now open to the public.
The space in South Glenmore Park has permanent instruments for families to play and a stage for future events.
Jordan’s mom Patty Segura said it’s a beacon of hope.
“I wish we didn’t have to go through what we went through, but I’m glad we were able to see the light afterwards, which is what this park is: life after loss,” she said.
There are also five memorial chairs with unique plaques capturing their individual spirits.
Ronda Lee Rathwell, Zack’s mom, said it exceeded expectations.
“It makes my heart sing,” she said.
“This is a dream come true and something that was imagined, and this is even better than we imagined.”
The garden is also designed to be a healing place to remember and to reflect.
Gregg Perras, Kaiti’s dad, said it’s an emotional day and they’re so grateful to so many.
“It’s been four years — a long time — and it’s gorgeous, and we have so many people to thank,” he said.
Shannon Miller, Kaiti’s mom, said she’s overwhelmed at the final product.
“It’s turned out even better than we ever hoped for,” she said.
Josh Hunter’s family was there for the emotional reveal.
“It’s hard to process. I’m still thinking: ‘Are we done?’ It’s been a long haul and we are excited to have music coming from the park and share it with Calgary,” Josh’s dad Barclay said.
Michaela Hunter brought her daughter to the garden. Piper is Josh’s niece.
“I’m excited for Piper to come and play,” Hunter said. “Her uncle would love her to play on the instruments and it will be a special place to bring her.”
The garden honours the life and vibrancy of people who were full of dreams for the future.
Marlene Hong, Lawrence’s mom, is moved by the encouragement from strangers.
“A lot of support that touched our hearts and given us the light to move forward every day,” Hong said.
“This legacy is a way to see our families contributing to the city that helped us so much,” Lawrence’s brother Miles said. “I know my brother, he wanted to be an urban planner and he dreamed of cities that were vibrant, and this is a part of him.”
The park was possible with the support of private donors who contributed close to $650,000 to make the garden a reality.
Bassett Associates Landscape designed the unique project, respecting the wishes from the families.
Patricia Meilleur is also being credited for her support of the families to help realize this vision. Steve Wyton with the City of Calgary helped guide the families through this project, liaising with city officials to make the garden possible.
The City of Calgary, Parks Foundation Calgary, the Province of Alberta, the Calgary Foundation, Enmax and the Prophets of Music are key partners in the project.