Each year around this time snowflakes appear on an oak tree in the middle of Queen Elizabeth Park. The snowflakes aren’t real, they’re made of paper, covered in laminate and hung with ribbon. If you look closely you’ll see each snowflake includes the name of a person who has passed on.
Karen Hebert has attended all but one snowflake ceremony since they began in Revelstoke in the mid 1990s. This year she is placing snowflakes for three people she knows who have passed on. Now retired, Hebert worked as a home care nurse and through that became involved with the Revelstoke Hospice Society. It’s the Hospice Society that hosts the snowflake ceremony each year.
“I just feel hospice is so important and I was involved with them until I retired in 2015, so that’s a long time. I’m still a member,” said Hebert.
Waiting for others to arrive for the ceremony held on Sunday, Dec. 2 Hebert tells me she feels a connection to those who have died when she sees the snowflake bearing their name hanging from the oak tree. The tree itself is unique having been selected by the Hospice Society for the symbolism it bears. Oak trees represent strength. The tree is embraced by a “circle of life”, a circular border created by flat bricks and raised earth.
This year’s ceremony draws in around 25 people, many of them Hospice Society members. The number of people attending each year varies. Some years there are more, some years there are less. Hebert recalls a lot of people attending the year Revelstoke lost several youth and young adults.
The ceremony begins. There is a short prayer and words of reflection. Snowflakes are carefully hung on the tree, left there to twirl from the branches until the wind and snowfall break the ribbon, causing each to fall to the ground below.