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Welcome everybody to St Clement’s Anglican Church and the grand opening of Creekside Commons! My name is Helen; I am the priest and rector here at St Clement’s. 

Many of you will know that I love to sing. I’m not going to ask you to sing—don’t worry—but I am going to use a singing metaphor to illustrate the relationships both here at St Clement’s and in the community at large, that have made Creekside Commons a success. 

Last week, my choir was rehearsing a movement from Antoni Vivaldi’s, Gloria, called in Latin: Et in terra pax, which means, And on earth peace. There are four parts to the movement: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. Each part has a turn leading, a turn to shine, while the other parts drop back to support.

I’m telling you this because this is the way that the relationships which have supported  Creekside Commons have functioned. Each person, each group, has stepped forward to lend their unique voice while others quietly lent their support in the background

For example, St Clement’s is located on the unceded ancestral territory of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. There are elders past and present who oversee the stewardship of this land. One of those elders is Carleen Thomas from Tsleil-Waututh who consulted with St Clement’s on the development of the gardens and some best practices for educating the community on plants that are native to this land and plants that are here as a result of settler migration. 

Dennis Joseph from Squamish Nation walked through this area with us when it was still a bramble patch. He helped us to envision a space where Squamish elders could gradually come to harvest medicine here. Jenn Ashton, a member of the Squamish Nation, a parishioner at St Clement’s, and until yesterday a long time resident of Lynn Valley, also consulted on this project. Jenn’s granny is a Squamish matriarch and we learned in the course of our consultation with Carleen Thomas that Jenn and Carleen actually have some relatives in common.

Now, they’re on vacation at the moment, but if you hang around at St Clement’s for even just a moment, soon enough you’ll meet Conrad Callihoo. Conrad is Cree and lives with his wife, Cam, on site. They are the vergers here at the church. Just this past year, Conrad stepped forward as the lead on the healing garden section of Creekside Commons and has offered his expertise ever since.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the folks at Coast Salish Nursery on Dollarton, who together with Salal and Cedar Watershed Discipleship Ministry launched the rewilding of our gardens some years ago now. 

As many of you will know, St Clement’s is also located within the District of North Vancouver. I want to welcome and acknowledge Jordan Back, a District of North Vancouver councillor who is here today. A special thanks also to Ian Abercrombie and Kerry Magnus, parishioners who worked with the District of North Vancouver Heritage Commission on the design, permits, and grant application for the Creekside Commons stairwell. 

Runestone Construction and Seymour Landscaping are two local, North Vancouver companies who have been key partners on this project. The stairwell and arbour were hand built by Torben Trendell-Jensen and the limestone pathways, fence, espaliered fruit trees, and garden tracking beautifully designed by Ryan, Jessica, Ben, and the talented team at Seymour Landscaping. Speaking of the fence, I want to give a shout-out to our neighbour, Payman. He and his wife very generously contributed half of the cost of the fence. Thank you, Payman. 

From the get-go, children, youth, and young adults from St Clement’s have been involved in this project. From hauling bricks to digging up roots—I still remember Henry with his mom and dad and Arthur the Dog hauling concrete at one of our work days. 

The Tree of Life Memorial Wall was designed by Elizabeth Mathers and Leita Edwards, and painted by Lynley Lewis, Wilna Parry, Olivia Creighton, and Jo Zosiuk. The gorgeous sign which welcomed you to Creekside Commons today was made by one of our newest University graduates, Carina Yong. The sign was installed by Carina's lovely obliging parents, Philip and Audrey, and brother, Carson. 

Generous financial support from St Clement’s parishioners seeded this project. $15, 000 in donations was matched by a $15, 000 grant from the Anglican Foundation. 

Finally, none of this would have been possible without the imagination, creativity, and patience of our honorary assistant Deacon, Elizabeth Mathers, and the enthusiasm, grit, and determination of our People's Warden, Sandra Martin. Sandra and Elizabeth worked together to inspire volunteers and connect community partners. They helped all of us find a way through disagreements and differences. Sandra in particular kept us all looking at the bigger picture when our aging concrete stairwell was demolished and we wondered if we'd ever see the other side! 

Sandra and Elizabeth, you have overseen the nuts and bolts, administration, and vision for this project. It has been one of the highlights of my ministry working on this project with you. 

In addition to the many names I have mentioned today, I add my thanks to Jeanette and Larry Terrace, Sally Hinnell, David Smith, Lynda Faivre-Duboz, Lynne and Gordon Graham, Joanne Graham, and David and Beth Bailey—who just last week transported four brand-spanking new rain barrels to the gardens. Please do ask them about the wild and wonderful world of water collection!

There is still lots of work to be done as we come together to sing now not in parts but as a whole, to make Creekside Commons just that—a place held in common, a place where everyone in Lynn Valley and beyond, people young and old, of every religion and none, feel warmly welcomed here. I encourage you to invite a neighbor, a coworker, or a friend from school to come and hang out at Creekside Commons. If you’d like to remember a loved one or a pet with a name on the Tree of Life Memorial Wall, you are welcome to do so. If you’d like to rent the gardens for an event or a family celebration, you are welcome here—all of our rental fees are on a sliding scale.

As I make my way to the ribbon cutting, please would Elizabeth, Sandra, Henry, and Kai join me at the arbour, and please would you all prepare to raise a glass as we toast to Creekside Commons!