North

Yellowknife memorial garden hopes to return to 'spectacular glory' with new repairs

The city of Yellowknife is hoping to make repairs to a local memorial garden this summer, after it has been the target of vandalism and has fallen into disrepair for a variety of reasons in recent years.

Garden was planted near city hall 18 years ago

The Loraine Minish-Cooper Garden of Hope has been the target of vandalism and has fallen into disrepair for different reasons in recent years. Megan Cooper, Loraine's daughter, and the city are planning to restore the memorial garden this summer. (Lawrence Nayally/ CBC)

The city of Yellowknife is hoping to make repairs to a local memorial garden this summer, after it has been the target of vandalism and has fallen into disrepair for a variety of reasons in recent years.

Nearly two decades ago, the Loraine Minish-Cooper Garden of Hope was established near the shore of Yellowknife's Frame Lake by city hall.

It was planted by friends and family in memory of Loraine Minish-Cooper, who was an avid gardener, and died of breast cancer in 2002.

Since 2003 the garden mostly has been run on volunteers and donations, but in the past few years that has changed as many who were once involved have now retired or moved away. Loraine's former husband was also a "driving force" for many years, but he also passed away in 2011. As a result, the capacity to maintain the garden has been compromised.

In recent years the memorial garden has also been the target of vandalism. But this summer, Loraine's daughter Megan Cooper is working with the city to restore the garden. 

Volunteers working on the garden during the last rebuild eight years ago in the summer of 2012. (Submitted by Megan Cooper)

"Unfortunately we do have some cases of vandalism and that's something we will need to address so that we can return the garden to the spectacular glory that it once was."

The city took over maintaining the garden over a few years ago, and Cooper said it has been incredibly supportive in planning out how to get it rebuilt again.

Over the last 18 years, the garden has been used as a place where people can remember their loved ones. (Submitted by Megan Cooper)

There are several major repairs they are hoping to make including fixing the fence that has been damaged by vandalism, fixing the garden's water feature, and regular maintenance that is overdue.

"We're building toward a more mature garden that will be more beautiful, have a wider variety of plants more interesting for people to check out and just a safer and lovelier place."

In the future, Cooper said she hopes that the garden will continue to be a place where people can remember those that they've lost. They are working with the city on rejuvenating a program where people are able to buy a plaque in memory of a lost loved one. 

In addition, she hopes it can continue to be used by the community in other ways as well. In the past, it has been the location of wedding photos and musical performances, for example. This summer they are also planning on creating a herb garden for community members to enjoy. 

"It is a memorial garden but over the years it's just developed into this positive beautiful space that people use in whatever way makes sense to them. And I think that's what we want to do here."

Cooper said she thinks that her mom would be touched by the fact that the garden has survived this long, and what it has grown into. Loraine lived in Yellowknife for over three decades and cared deeply about the community. She was involved in multiple local organizations, and often carried a garbage bag to work to pick up litter around the city. 

"I think she would be really proud of what people have been able to accomplish with this garden in general not just because it's in her name, but mostly because of the spirit of community it represents."

Loraine Minish-Cooper, who was a Yellowknifer and an avid gardener, died of breast cancer in 2002. The garden was planted in her memory. (Submitted by Megan Cooper)

With files from Joanne Stassen and Lawrence Nayally

now