All Souls event brings life and light to Mountain View Cemetery

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A shrine with candles and incense. Photo by Breanna Fabbro
A shrine with candles and incense.
Photo by Breanna Fabbro

The ninth annual All Souls event will be taking place at Mountain View Cemetery from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 in Vancouver. It is for people to spend some time in the cemetery while commemorating their loved ones.

According to Marina Szijarto, the All Souls curator, a shrine is anything that is placed with intention. When making a shrine, it’s best to “go with an impulse of that moment.”

“It’s about trying to create a new tradition. What’s happened is Halloween has become a commercialized festival and it’s all about candy and buying costumes. It’s really lost what it had,” said Szijarto.

She wanted to address that lack of tradition and create a sense of connection in the East Van neighbourhood.

She paired up with artist Paula Jardine and created the All Souls memorial event. Jardine said, “I felt a moral obligation as an artist to try and bring something with more beauty. Creating lost souls was more about giving a deeper connection to this time of year, as time to honour your ancestors.”

All Souls is intended to give people in the city an outlet for grief. Szijarto said, “This event provides a space for people to remember something more real about the dead.”

Death: A business in North America

Szijarto expressed that death and funerals have become a business in North America.

“What are the options of how you go through the process of dealing with a death?” said Szijarto. “We’ve lost our personal connection to death because society has given it up to industry.”

Some people clean and decorate individual graves. Photo from Paula Jardine
Some people clean and decorate individual graves.
Photo from Paula Jardine

People within the community and from all over the world are encouraged to create a shrine in memory of someone and place it in the cemetery.

“Someone from Denmark [called us] one year, and asked if we would mind putting a candle out for his sister,” said Jardine.

Participants can choose where they place their shrines throughout the cemetery and they will remain present until the end of the event on Nov. 2, 2013. The cemetery is located at 5455 Fraser St.

“It’s a real community effort,” said Jardine.

Reported by Jacqueline Langen and Angie Holubowich

Check out the video below of an interview with resident artist Paula Jardine from the Mountain View Cemetery.

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