Forest of Hope planted in Beachburg, Ont.

Canada’s first Forest of Hope in support of suicide prevention was planted in Beachburg, Ont., on Saturday.

Forestry technician students from Algonquin College’s Pembroke campus planted 1,500 white spruce, red pine, and white pine trees in an area just off Beachburg Road.

“It’s a place where people who have lost loved ones to suicide can come, congregate, remember, and know that there’s a Tree of Hope planted in that person’s memory,” said Erika Luoma with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP).

According to CASP, 11 Canadians are lost every day to suicide, totalling more than 4,000 deaths by suicide in Canada each year.

“We hope that this Forest of Hope will give inspiration and hope and show that things can be done for suicide prevention in memory of those who have been lost,” said Luoma.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention Forst of Hope sign in Beachburg, Ont. (John Pineau/Algonquin College)

Among the roughly 50 Algonquin students that turned out Saturday was Ashley MacRae.

“I am out here for my brother, I am out here for my best friend,” MacRae told CTV News Ottawa.

“They have gone through many struggles and it is just amazing to see how resilient they are and it’s amazing to see how their strength parallels the strength of these trees.”

MacRae hopes those who visit the new Forest of Hope over the coming years will find inspiration and connection through the trees around them.

“These trees are really just surviving no matter what hits them and they’re growing through it,” MacRae says. “I saw a tree the other day that was almost parallel to the ground and the branches were shooting upwards, still had leaves on them.”

The addition of new life to the Beachburg forest also provides opportunities for future forestry students, who will use the area as an outdoor classroom for generations to come.

“Going forward for the next 50, 100 years even we get to monitor all this and the students benefit from it,” said Peter Arbour, the program coordinator for Algonquin’s Forestry Technician stream.

“The activities that we have them perform on this woodlot and other places is a direct emulation of what they would need for industry work.”

Luoma says CASP hopes to build off the success of their first Forest of Hope.

“We want to be able to establish forests of hope in different communities across Canada in years to come.”

View original article here Source