By Lyonel Doherty
What’s better than hugging a tree?
Planting one . . . or 80.
That’s how many were put into the ground in Lion’s Park last week (Sept. 27) as part of National Tree Day.
A special “Oliver Has Roots” ceremony was held at 9 am with local children, pioneers, veterans and aboriginal leaders.
Carol Sheridan from Oliver Parks and Recreation said the 80 trees are native to the area and were grown by Sagebrush Nursery.
She said it was a fitting tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday.
She also noted the tree planting event actually addresses one of their strategic goals, which is to connect people with nature in local parks.
“We’re encouraging more wildlife and oxygen in our parks,” Sheridan added.
On Wednesday morning, three varieties of trees were planted, including Douglas Maple, Western Red Cedar, and the white (paper) birch.
Aboriginal educator Vanessa Smith-Tso told the children that First Nations people used the birch tree to make birch bark baskets.
Rick Knodel, alternate director for Area C, also gave people a history lesson by saying Lion’s Park was a former industrial site used to wash and transport silica.
Egon Weger, a representative of Tree Canada, said they have assisted in planting eight million trees since 1992.
Pioneers Yvonne Moore, Don Bousfield and Osoyoos Indian Band elder Jane Stelkia also attended the ceremony. Stelkia, 87, said there was supposed to be a Ponderosa tree that was planted in the area before the Town of Oliver was established.
“I’d love to see a Ponderosa planted here,” she said.
Stelkia added a bit of her own history lesson, recalling the days when Triangle Park had hitching rails for horses.
Moore, a member of the Oliver Legion, said her father worked on the original irrigation ditch. She recalled attending many community events in Oliver as a child.