On Sept. 15, Scw’exmx Community Health Services hosted a tree planting ceremony at N’kwala Park.
A maple tree was planted in honour of those who have passed or are still struggling with addiction. A few Merritt residents were present at the time to pay their tributes for their loved ones.
The ceremony opened with a drumming performance, an important tradition of First Nations cultural practice that represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth. This was followed by a prayer.
May George, manager of the wellness team at the Scw’exmx Community Health Services, said that it is significant to host this type of ceremony.
“This is a tree of prayer now. Anyone can come here even if they’re struggling … or they are having a good day,” she said. “They can come here and just be with the tree. The tree is medicine for us.”
George said the project started last October when the harm reduction team created a paper tree where people could put names of people who are struggling or have passed due to addiction.
She added that the tree that was planted is a continuation of that project.
“We have a live tree that has been planted, that tree is going to be alive and we’re going to remember those who have lost (their lives) and (those who) are still struggling.
“This is a place for people to come and remember all those that are lost in addiction, (those) who are no longer here,” George said. “Hopefully it will give some peace to people who are still struggling and who are grieving for those people that are coming out here.”