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Original News Release





June 22, 2007

Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services





Three thousand and thirty-seven persons with disabilities who died while residing in Woodlands or Essondale (now Riverview) institutions were buried in the former Woodlands Cemetery between 1920 and 1958.


The cemetery officially closed in 1977, when the grave markers were removed, ostensibly in order not to upset residents of the facility overlooking the cemetery at the time. Unfortunately, over the ensuing decades, many grave markers were misplaced or used as building materials in projects such as a barbecue patio on the Woodlands grounds and a retaining wall in the nearby ravine.


Nine grave markers were left in their original locations. These have acted as sentinels, keeping watch over the site until the memory of those buried here could be restored.


In 1999, the BC Self Advocacy Foundation and the BC Association for Community Living, with the support of the provincial government, began planning the Woodlands Memorial Garden.


Over 500 grave markers were recovered, cleaned, and set into memorial walls. Thirty-four black granite panels also set into these walls bear the names of every person buried in the former cemetery. The long wall on the northwest side of the site incorporates 200 more grave markers found during construction.


Woodlands Memorial Garden incorporates the theme of remembering and celebrating the lives of people with developmental disabilities and mental illness who lived and died in institutions. The memory of these people is meant to inspire visitors to the garden to include and value all people, whether at home, at work, or at play in B.C. communities.






Barb Wright

Communications Director

Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services

250 287-2699


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