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All Souls opening night at Mountain View Cemetery

People could write notes or messages to their loved ones on the walls of the shrine (Kera Skocylas photo)
People could write notes or messages to their loved ones on the walls of the shrine (Kera Skocylas photo)

Reported by Kera Skocylas

High winds and torrential rain didn’t stop hundreds of people from attending the opening night of the 10th anniversary of the All Souls events in Vancouver on Oct. 25.

This year’s event was held at Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver’s only cemetery.

The event was created to honour and remember the dead in a welcoming and peaceful setting. The community was invited to sing, listen to music, create personalized candles and share their memories of people they have lost.

A way to remember the dead

Paula Jardine and Marina Szijarto, both artists, created and organized the event.

“We as humans have the need and desire to remember the dead in an atmosphere of beauty,” Jardine said.

Inside the celebration hall, people drank tea, ate cookies, laughed and shared stories.

“It’s a nice night to remember our loved ones,” attendee Mae Spitzer said.

“My great-grandparents, grandparents, mother, and great aunts and uncles are all here.”

One room was full of tables where people could create a personalized memorial.

People wrote messages for loved ones

They were invited to write a message to the lost soul on tracing paper and then fit the paper in a glass candle holder so that the message was visible through the glass.

The candle could then be taken outside and lit and placed on a grave or at a shrine.

One shrine had a wall with messages written on it, and people could burn incense and light candles.

People also sang along with a choir around a tall flame, and a trumpet could be heard during the night.

People wrote messages to loved ones on long pieces of paper and hung them on a string of white lights.

Numerous families attended the event, with babies in strollers and children of all ages.

First experience with death

Jardine said the event is a great place to begin the conversation of mortality, and for kids to have their first experience thinking about death.

A young boy said “I touched a grave, mom” as he jumped in puddles in his rain boots.

Colette Lisoway, who worked at the event, said at this time of year when there are so many spooky Halloween things going on, it is nice to have such an intimate and special event.

“There is nothing spooky about this event. It’s very respectful, reflective, and contemplative,” she said.

This event has become a tradition for many people, Jardine said, “it’s a comfort to realize that others are feeling the same way.”



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