The gardens and farms all around Abbotsford are starting to spring to life, fresh with the promise of a new growing season.
But tucked away in a tiny forested corner in the city is a garden that always glows with hope. The International Friendship Garden and Cultural Gateway is home to the Golden Tree Farmworkers’ Monument, which sits in the centre of an urban oasis, on the north side of Clearbrook Library (32320 George Ferguson Way).
The monument is a stunning 22-foot, twisting apple tree covered in gold flake. On a cool spring day it glows warmly in the sunshine as birds bathe in a pond nearby. Its branches and the bright, iridescent green leaves are visible from every corner of the garden, inspiring wonder and awe.
Each element of the sculpture, created by Dean and Christina Lauzé, was carefully thought out and reflects both the tragic story behind its inception and the hope held for the future.
The Golden Tree stands as a legacy to Amarjit Bal, 52, Sukhvinder Punia, 41, and Sarbjit Sidhu, 31, who were among 14 workers who were in an unsafe work van when the driver crashed on March 7, 2007 on Highway 1.
The three women died and a coroner’s inquest was held in 2009, resulting in 18 recommendations to improve the unsafe working conditions faced by farmworkers.
The Golden Tree project took seven years to come to fruition, and it was installed in 2015 within the Friendship Garden, along with plaques honouring the memory of Bal, Punia and Sidhu. While the monument is not meant as an effigy to the women, it does feature the likeness of three female bodies and faces.
The artists say the trio represent the maiden, the matron and the matriarch.
Overall, the plaques state, the Golden Tree stands as a fitting legacy to the women, and is a symbol of collective hope and ongoing work to ensure that all farmworkers are treated with dignity and respect and have healthy and safe working conditions.
Something to ponder while walking the garden’s spiraling paths, or sitting on a park bench in the shade.
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