Moving past tragedy: Parents of Brentwood victims fundraising for new Calgary garden

Families of the people who were killed at a Calgary house party are raising money for a new garden to honour the victims.

Five years after deaths, design unveiled for commemorative park

Family and friends of the five people killed at a 2014 house party in Brentwood are working to raise money for a commemorative garden to honour the victims. (Jocelyn Boissonneault/CBC)

Parents of the five people killed at a Calgary house party in 2014 are working to build a new commemorative garden in Calgary.

Families of the five young adults, who died five years ago, have joined together with Bassett Associates Landscape Architecture to create the Quinterra Legacy Garden, a place where all Calgarians can gather, located in South Glenmore Park.

"It's healing, and we want it to be a place of healing as well," said Ronda-Lee Rathwell, mother of Zackariah Rathwell, one of the stabbing victims.

"For us, it'll be a place to come and remember our kids, but for even people that don't know the kids — if they're hurting or lost," she said.

Ronda-Lee Rathwell, mother of Zackariah Rathwell, says the park will honour the five victims, but it's for all Calgarians. (Jocelyn Boissonneault/CBC)

"They can come and enjoy it, and enjoy the beauty, and make some good memories. Play some music. Watch some kids laugh and run and play and realize that there is a lot of good, and a lot of light in this world," Rathwell said.

The families are raising money for the project, with a $750,000 goal. So far they've raised $71,200. Included in the plan are interactive musical elements, and a nine-metre diameter stage.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Lawrence Hong, 27, Kaitlin Perras, 23, ​Jordan Segura, 22, and Joshua Hunter, 23, died after being stabbed at a party in Calgary's Brentwood community in 2014. (Facebook)

The space pays tribute to Zackariah Rathwell, Lawrence Hong, Kaitlin Perras, Jordan Segura, and Joshua Hunter, who died after being stabbed at a party in Calgary's northwest Brentwood community in 2014.

Aspects of the park symbolize the five victims. There will be five chairs near the centre, located under five flowering trees, and a five-pointed star in another area of the garden.

We want it to be a place of healing.-  Ronda-Lee Rathwell

"This park is just so much them," Rathwell said.

Her son and Hunter were both musicians, Perras was a dancer, Segura enjoyed community, and Hong had an interest in city planning.

 
Barclay Hunter, Joshua’s father, says the park is about moving forward after the tragedy. (Jocelyn Boissonneault/CBC)

The park was designed by Bassett Associates, a landscape architecture group.

"[The goal was] to try to create something that would be special and unique, and to remember their families, their children, as well as to give something back to all of Calgarians," said Valerie Bassett, principal, Bassett Associates.

Barclay Hunter, Joshua's father, said the garden's design brought him to tears.

"It's about going forward. It's about life, and it's about the good things in life, and it's not about the tragedy," he said.

The process to get the land from the city and to formalize the design of the park took around two years, Hunter said.

People looking to donate to the project can do so on the garden's website.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.