Hand-painted rocks with names of those lost due to an increasingly dangerous illicit drug supply have been placed outside of the Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN), where a garden will be planted.
The garden was spearheaded by Becky McLeod. She hopes it will provide Quesnel and area residents with basic necessities such as healthy foods while memorializing loved ones.
McLeod has been with CSUN since August 2020 after her friend Tammy Forget invited her to a meeting hosted by CSUN where community members weighed in on changes to help with issues around homelessness and addictions.
“I have been homeless and on the streets without anywhere to turn, and I have gotten to know many of Quesnel’s homeless or addicted are labeled as “bad apples” in our community,” she said.
“But no matter what someone has labeled them, they are still humans and all have a unique story about how they got into that spot in their lives.”
McLeod believes if others would listen to those stories, a lot of stigma and judgment would disappear, allowing people to come together not only as a community but as compassionate human beings helping one another.
“That alone could save lives,” she said, noting she has envisioned having a non-gated community garden for years.
A large assortment of seeds for the garden has been donated by the Quesnel Salvation Army.
McLeod has already started planting some of the seeds, which are sprouting in planters currently kept indoors with CSUN staff member Jen K. Rick and Kim Meier have also helped with building boxes. Other staff and multiple community members have provided gardening tips and knowledge of their own to help make the garden a success.
The start of something special…..
Honoring our friends and family we have lost at our drop in center at CSUN – 445…
As the garden begins to take shape, McLeod said she hopes it will help at least one person not go hungry for a day or for one family to eat healthily.
“I would love to see people coming into CSUN to see the garden and possibly contribute to it by painting a rock for a loved one who sadly has been lost to the overdose crisis and furthermore coming inside to access some of our services,” she said.
In a stigma-free environment where the coffee is always on, CSUN provides peer advocacy programs, harm reduction supplies, food, and personal hygiene products at no cost.
Clothing donated by community members is also available.