It was a sombre afternoon in Muskoseepi Park on Thursday, as the 4th The Healing Hearts Homeless Memorial took place with nearly 100 in attendance.
Friendship Centre Cultural Navigator Natascha Okimaw says the event gives people the chance to honour those who may not have had any other family.
“This is something that I do feel is important and to bring recognition to those in the community for those lives that have been lost while experiencing homelessness,” she says
“Less focus on the reasons why they perished, but more on remember that person. Because everybody is somebodies child at some point,” she adds.
While she didn’t have exact numbers, Okimaw says the last 365 days hit a lot of members of the community in Grande Prairie hard, including her on a very personal level.
“I do feel that this year has been a lot more than in previous years. Whether it be from drugs, or it could be from another reason. We at the centre lost one of our regular volunteers. He himself was homeless but he always gave his time. He perished from a heart attack this fall and it has been very tough.”
The ceremony took place around a memorial bench, which was unveiled in 2017, located the train trestle bridge south of 99th Avenue.