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For Immediate Release


June 22, 2007

Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services




NEW WESTMINSTER – Woodlands Memorial Garden was officially opened to the public today during a dedication ceremony presided over by Olga Ilich, Minister of Labour and Citizens’ Services, and Claude Richmond, Minister of Employment and Income Assistance.


“This is an important opportunity to honour the 3,037 residents of Woodlands and Essondale who were buried in the former cemetery, and to help bring closure to their surviving family and friends,said Ilich.


Woodlands Memorial Garden remembers and celebrates the lives of people with developmental disabilities and mental illness who lived and died in the Woodlands and Essondale institutions. They were interred in the former Woodlands Cemetery, which was closed in 1977.


“The creation of this memorial garden has transformed the area into a beautiful gathering place honouring the former residents,” said Richmond. “It is a fitting tribute to those persons with disabilities, who we so esteem as valuable contributing members of our communities.”


The Woodlands Memorial Garden dedication ceremony was attended by over 200 guests from across Canada, including surviving former residents of the institutions; friends and loved ones of former residents; and volunteers.


“After having worked on the project for over eight years, we are pleased that the memorial garden has come to fruition,” said Laney Bryenton, executive director of BC Association for Community Living. “We hope that the garden serves as a welcoming public space and as a reminder of the impact of institutional life on those who lived and died there.”


The Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services funded the Woodlands Memorial Garden, which is open to the public on a 24/7 basis, and located in New Westminster on McBride Avenue near Blackberry Drive.


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Barb Wright

Communications Director

Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services

250 287-2699


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