150 trees. Making connections, filling spaces.

Our July Canada 150 Legacy Tree Planting event started in February.

We’d just submitted our application to the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th with an idea to invite new Canadians still putting down roots to plant a legacy forest, connecting them to their home. I often feel that the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area has an organizational dynamic like a tree. A tree that connects, grows and changes.

Several months before this event was conceptualized, I planted my first tree in the area.

I’ll never forget that experience, and the realization of what I had become a part of. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with several plantings. Tree planting is a substantial part of our conservation work, leaving behind an impact that’s larger than ourselves. A young tree is like a growing child, holding immeasurable potential. With the trees we plant we seed our hopes and dreams. We dream of the right now, a time for action and a time for reaching out, to cross boundaries.

In March, our application was accepted.

We had become part of a larger national dialogue spurred by community foundations across Canada, to share our stories and celebrate our Canada. The ASCCA’s Canada is Alberta’s Canada, and Calgary’s Canada – a Canada for the world; a Canada that belongs to each of us. Within it we discover the simple joy of being outdoors, a zest for life, of relishing in the beauty of nature and feeling a strong desire to protect it, preserve it, and share it with the ones we love.

On July 8, 2017, more than 100 new Canadians and their families came to plant trees in the area, in partnership with Calgary YMCA LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada).

I’ll never forget how their faces lit up, holding the trees they were about to plant. We all took time digging holes, packing down dirt and getting our hands dirty. It was lovingly that we carried buckets for watering the trees, taking proud photos and smiling at the thought of coming back to see how they’d grow. Some of the participants may have experienced their first time in a place like the ASCCA. It’s not hard to understand how someone new to Canada might feel overwhelmed or even alienated. Canada can seem expansive and daunting, with harsh winters and wide open spaces. Let’s seek to fill them.

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