Tiny Hands of Hope and the Compassionate Friends of Grande Prairie broke ground on the Blossoming Garden of Hope, formerly named the Children’s Memorial Garden at Maskwôtêh Park. Adding to the momentous occasion, the project also received a $150,000 donation from the Buchanan Family Foundation, which will cover the outstanding costs of construction.
Tiny Hands of Hope co-founder Karen Gilkyson says it’s a little overwhelming to see the garden finally come to fruition, but she is so happy to see it in place.
“It feels extremely surreal. We had to take a pause during the pandemic and were unsure how we were going to pull the funding together. This past year, we just put our heads down and really got to work. We got the word out there that this Blossoming Garden of Hope is needed in our community and spread our vision to people in the community,” she explains.
“We received support from the City of Grande Prairie, the County of Grande Prairie, community members, and people within our organization. It’s been a whirlwind these last few months and to see it come together truly feels incredible.”
Compassionate Friends of Grande Prairie President Elizabeth Naeth says the idea started by her and Gilkyson in 2013 was originally going to be a tulip garden, but it has grown into so much more.
“It feels like a load off our shoulders. The amount of community support is flooring. We have an amazing community that we should be very proud to be a part of,” Naeth says.
“There is a symbolic meaning behind the new name. Blossom means short, beautiful life. Children’s lives can be short too,” says Gilkyson. “Hope is what we look for as parents after a child dies. We have to find a way to move forward and not be shattered the rest of our lives.”
Gilkyson adds they hope to have shovels in the ground by next week and weather permitting, the garden could be finished by this coming October.
The full price of the garden when finished is expected to be just under $410,000.