Barclay Hunter said he remembers his son Josh often packing up his drum sticks in a gym bag and heading to Prince’s Island Park to play music and enjoy time with his friends.
Now Josh, along with Lawrence Hong, Kaiti Perras, Jordan Segura and Zackariah Rathwell, who were killed April 15, 2015 at a Brentwood house party in Calgary’s worst-ever mass murder, will be honoured at a newly-created music garden and public performance space located in Calgary’s South Glenmore Park.
The garden will be Calgary’s first fully-dedicated, specially designed outdoor space of its kind.
“This is very fitting for who Josh was in his life. Just out connecting with people and being out and being with his friends and playing music,” Hunter told LiveWire Tuesday.
The Quinterra Legacy Garden has been two years in the making. With families of the five young Calgarians meeting together each month in that time to explore ideas and come up with a plan.
“Over two years, we came up with the concept of the performance space,” Hunter said.
“And that was really a reflection of who our kids were and what they were doing in their lives.”
Hunter said the idea was sparked by a “special lady” in their community of Priddis, who wanted to support the families and help them build a lasting tribute to the five.
They’ve been helped along by a steady team of volunteers, the architects at Bassett Associates Landscape architecture and the many Calgarians that have supported them over the past five years.
Hunter said they wanted the space to be publicly accessible and to embody the type of space their kids would have been excited to go to.
“It needs to reflect not the tragedy that happened, but the qualities that our kids had and their zest for life and what they stood for,” Hunter said.
“Although there’s an element of it meant to be contemplative and reflective, we also wanted it to be a vibrant, active place where there were things going on, people living their lives and doing good things and out living life.”
Ground will break on the project this spring, with an expected opening in August.
It’s not lost on Hunter that this is the five-year anniversary of the tragedy that gripped Calgary for years after. Five is a symbol represented in many of the elements in the park: five branches, leaves and roots in the garden logo, a five-point star on the performance stage and five chairs placed in front of flowering trees.
“The timing just worked out that way, but it’s very important for us to see the project happen this year. It’s been a long journey,” Hunter said.
“It doesn’t feel like five years. It feels like yesterday. It’s important to honour the kids and there are elements of five in everything that we’re doing here.”
Having the project to focus on, and the camaraderie of the other families, was an important part of the healing process, Hunter said. But, he said this space is for others to find their peace, too.
“Having that focus has helped us with our healing. It’s also important for us to recognize that others may get something out of this, losing a child or whatever loss or grief you have in your life, there are things to help you through that,” he said.
“I think this is an opportunity for people to see that we’ve been through something as crazy as we’ve been through and have benefitted by doing something like this.”
Other parents are hoping the community will embrace the space as they believe their children would have. They’ve gathered for a public announcement on the Legacy Garden Tuesday.
“We hope it will be a space to build community, emulate love, spread positivity and inspire reflection,” said Ronda-Lee Rathwell of the Quinterra Legacy Garden Group.
“Our vision is to see Calgarians in the garden with their family and friends, enjoying the arts or a meditation program and being thankful for today.”
The project is a partnership between the Quinterra Legacy Garden Group, the City of Calgary Parks department, Parks Foundation Calgary, Bassett Associates Landscape Architects and the Prophets of Music.
They have a fundraising goal of $750,000 to ensure the ongoing support of the garden. To support the Quinterra Legacy Garden, visit https://www.parksfdn.com/community-projects.