Heiwa Garden Update
On Friday January 15, several dozen people gathered at the Heiwa Garden project on Salt Spring Island for the unveiling of interpretive panels depicting the island’s Japanese Canadian heritage and the planting of a weeping Japanese maple tree. With the unveiling of the panels, the Garden is almost complete.
Even the weather proved supportive as heavy rains made way for brilliant afternoon sunshine just in time for the event.
The interpretive panels were created and installed thanks to a grant from the National Association of Japanese Canadians. The panels provide a timeline of Japanese Canadian settlement on the island and historical information about the relocation of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Of the many families who were relocated to the BC Interior, only the Murakami family would return to the island, rebuilding their lives in the face of many obstacles.
“I commend the hard work and dedication of all the individuals, groups and businesses that have brought this project to a successful completion,” wrote Terumi Kuwada, president of the NAJC, in a letter read to participants at Friday’s ceremony by Maggie Ziegler. “It is critical to the history of Salt Spring Island, as well as our country, that the history of its citizens are documented and preserved for future generations. It is through the past that we learn valuable lessons to create a more tolerant and kinder society that we leave for our children and grandchildren.”
Society member Deb Stevenson thanked individuals and community groups who developed and installed the historical panels, wooden benches and tree in time for Friday’s festivities. Contributions from Phil Vernon, Mana Nakata, Michael Dragland, Colin Beamish, Warren Langley, Patrick Normal, Aki Otsu, Lloyd Klassen, Marlene Rice, Clifton Schooley, the Salt Spring Zen Circle, Masa Ito, Luke Hart-Weller, Hannah Brown and the Salt Spring Island Foundation made Friday’s event a reality.
Peter Levitt, founder of the Salt Spring Zen Circle, used the afternoon’s ceremony to note the garden’s significance to this and future generations. His group provided the maple tree planted in a prominent position near the Heiwa Garden’s entrance. “To plant a tree in a garden dedicated to reconciliation and peace is a wonderful thing, because by planting a tree in such a place, we also plant a seed of peace in all those people in the future who will see it, walk past it or sit beneath its sheltering embrace,” Levitt told participants. “May the seed of peace this beautiful Heiwa Peace Garden sows in our community be constantly and properly tended and nourished by all of us, so that the true heart of peace, of reconciliation and of community grows strong here on Salt Spring.”
On March 28, the planting of two rare Japanese black pines and the transplanting of four other trees completed the design plans at Heiwa Garden, representatives say.
BC Bonsai Society president Tak Yamaura and his wife donated the pines to the local Japanese Garden Society after reading about Heiwa Garden in a Vancouver Japanese language newspaper last summer.
The mature, full-sized pines have been cultivated as bonsais over a period of 30 and 20 years each. They are trained so that the trunks lean out, resembling a swaying dancer, while the branches and greenery lift upwards.
Sheryl Taylor-Munro, JGS secretary, said while people “may be familiar with the small, table-top bonsai, trees like these are large, mature specimens which are rarely seen outside Japanese gardens. We are very fortunate in receiving these trees as donations.”
Taylor-Munro said the Yamauras’ donation fulfills plans the society had for the plot, but so far were financially unable to pursue. The bonsai specialist will visit the island in May to show the garden society how to trim and maintain the trees. The group will announce the public event when the date is set.
Japanese landscape architect Maso Ito, who has worked with the society for the past five to six years, oversaw the planting process. The work coincided with the transplanting of four trees planted a decade earlier by the group The Voice of Women, now set in their permanent positions.
“This completes the design except for some lower shrubs,” said Taylor-Munro.
The final touch will be lamp-posts and lights for the pathway, designed by the garden society and provided by Salt Spring’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
On April 28, Salt Spring Island’s Richard Murakami, along with 44 other British Columbians, will receive the 2010 British Columbia Community Achievement Award at a gala ceremony in Victoria. According to an announcement by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, Murakami was selected as a result of his “selfless acts of generosity, large and small . . . Richard supports youth, the hospital foundation, the Heiwa Peace Park and most significantly, and the initiative that will affect the community for years to come, he donated land for the construction of a recently completed 27-unit affordable social housing project.”
Award recipients are chosen based on nominations submitted to an advisory council comprising municipal politicians from across the province.
“Together, British Columbians build a stronger province, and in the midst of these demanding times, we gather confidence from those in our province who consistently and honourably create safe, caring and vital communities,” said Premier Gordon Campbell during Tuesday’s announcement. “I applaud the outstanding contribution these individuals have made to regions throughout British Columbia and their commitment to making our province the best place on earth.”
The British Columbia Achievement Foundation is an independent foundation established and endowed by the province to recognize and celebrate excellence in the arts, humanities, enterprise and community service.
with files from Sean McIntyre & Elizabeth Nolan
the Gulf Islands Driftwood
used by permission
For all the latest information about the garden or to find out how you can lend your support, visit the group’s website at www.saltspringjapanesegarden.com or contact the society at 250.537.4716.