New garden grows monument to sexual assault survivors

Eganville – On a day which resonates in the memory of Renfrew County, a group gathered at the memorial to honour survivors of sexual violence and mark a new chapter with a garden planted adjacent to the pebble monument.

“We decided to grow the monument,” Joanne Brooks, the executive director of the Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County, explained to the small gathering. “It is a metaphor for the seeds.”

The monument, which graces the hill of Centennial Park along the Bonnechere River in a large pebble flower, has been the subject of vandalism several times and the response was to educate and try to create something beautiful instead of putting in security cameras, she explained.

“There have been four acts of vandalism that we know of,” she said.

This is upsetting on many levels, including the fact there are ashes under the glass domelike orb at the centre of the monument, and having a garden by the monument is being done to beautify and educate. Ms. Brooks pointed out this monument is akin to the one in Petawawa but vandals have never touched one.

However, instead of focusing on the vandalism, organizers decided to do something positive instead. Responding by planting flowers and bulbs, which will bloom in the spring, seemed the best response, she said. A stone will also be installed in the new garden and should be in place by Thanksgiving. The stone will read, “in honour of the strength, courage and reliance of survivors of sexual violence.”

The day chosen for the unveiling of a new garden was the anniversary of the day in 2015 when Nathalie Warmerdam, Anastasia Kuzyk and Carole Culleton were killed. Family members were present for the memorial gathering and had a chance to lay one of the flowers on the