By Paula E. Kirman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – In 2022, 156 people died in Edmonton as a direct or indirect result of not having a home. They were remembered on June 7 during the Edmonton Homeless Memorial.
The Edmonton Homeless Memorial is an annual event organized by the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH). It is held at the Homeless Memorial Plaza across from City Hall. The area features a sculpture by local artists Keith Turnbull and Ritchie Velthuis, as well as 22 tile artists, many of whom were from the inner city.
“This memorial speaks to the harsh realities of poverty, the dangers of living on the streets, and the desperate need for love and hope in our lives,” said Susan Watson, Chair of ECOHH, who noted the numbers have been increasing each year.
The memorial included blessings and prayers in English and Cree, drumming and singing from a group led by Lloyd Cardinal, and the soaring voice of Stephanie Burlie, who sang a cappella. Burlie is the daughter of the late Mary Burlie who was a beloved social worker in the inner city. A community member also spoke about the experience of being homeless.
Those in attendance could place a flower at the sculpture, which was also surrounded by paper figures representing members of the homeless population. A first at this year’s memorial, butterflies were released around the sculpture as well.
The first Edmonton Homeless Memorial was held in 2006. A total of 1411 people have been commemorated between then and now.
Click here to view video of the Memorial.