A Legacy Garden: A Place to Remember and to Celebrate Sally Haugen, AIAB Alumna and Sunshine Dragons Abreast, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada
Ten years ago Abreast In A Boat (AIAB) paddlers Sandy Smith, Sharon Eakins, Jane Frost and I went to Toronto to participate in the 2001 Dragons Abreast Festival and Conference. Sharon and I attended an important workshop on remembering those whom we have lost to breast cancer. It was led by Doug Graydon, an Anglican priest who had worked with HIV/AIDS patients. We came home thinking what could we do to remember paddlers we had lost?
AIAB Garden in 2012
AIAB Garden, 2012
We walked every inch of the shores of False Creek, the waterway in Vancouver where this breast cancer dragon boat paddling started. We thought about placing a bench there. We thought about public art. We pictured a series of bronzed dragon boat seats with paddlers in all the seats but one. Then reality set in. There were no bench sites left in False Creek. The cost of an interactive statue was prohibitive. The approval process for public art was overwhelming so we wandered back to Alder Bay in False Creek, where we launch our boats. And there, right in Alder Bay, we realized the perfect spot for a Legacy Garden was the grassy knoll overlooking our dock. It even had fuchsia rhododendrons in the spring. With the support of the Vancouver Parks Board we were able to place a plaque in “our” garden and to this day the garden continues to sprout pink and fuchsia flowers.
The plaque reads: “Abreast In A Boat.” OUR RACE AGAINST BREAST CANCER “In April 1996, here in Alder Bay, 24 women who had been treated for breast cancer slipped into a dragon boat and together raised their paddles for the first time. A legend was born. A lively, vigorous sport has become a passion for those who have experienced this disease all around the world.”
“The Legacy Garden is dedicated to the paddlers, their families and friends, the sponsors and the community who have given unstinting support.”
We return frequently to remember our paddling friends, sadly far too many of them, including Sandy Smith and Sharon Eakins.
We also celebrate as this photograph illustrates. This spring Dr. Don McKenzie is pictured with AIAB crew members who were celebrating ten years since they began paddling together. A time and place to reconnect with old friends and to celebrate the happy moments. I understand Dragons Abreast (Toronto) remembers their friends with a memorial bench in Humber Park West. Have other teams found ways to remember?