The Autumn Equinox Vigil held in Calgary’s Union Cemetery on Sept. 23 honoured the deceased and celebrated the living.
For the last six years, Calgarians have gathered on the Autumn Equinox to create a time for tribute and reflection in remembering those who have died in the previous year.
Yvonne Kustec, the Lantern Procession Artist at the Equinox Vigil, said that there’s no better way for Calgarians from all communities to come together then at the ceremony.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Kustec.
“People feel so comfortable here because they know that the person next to them is also grieving some kind of loss.”
“The vigil creates a safe place to mourn and commemorate lost loved ones and I think that is really an emotional turning point for a lot of the people who attend,” said Kustec.
The production manager of the Equinox Vigil, Jodie Stevens, said the importance of community engagement is one of the reasons she’s so involved with the event.
“I feel very grateful to be a part of something so inspiring,” said Stevens.
“To see people come together like this is very rewarding for me.
“Mourning a loss is never easy and the fact that strangers can come together to help each other heal in such a unique and meaningful way is why I love what I do,” said Stevens.
Stevens also said that attendance has grown significantly each year since the first Equinox Vigil in 2012.
“The vigil is truly becoming one of Calgary’s most sacred traditions,” said Stevens.
Nancy Jo Cullen, a poet preforming at the Equinox Vigil, said she contributes to the event by helping people deal with grief through her poetry.
“There are many talents at the vigil every year,” said Cullen.
“From dancers and singers to artists and poets, we all just want to help make a difference for those who are mourning a loss in some shape or form.
“My poems focus on the worrying conditions of modern living and how grief can infiltrate our daily lives,” said Cullen.
A newcomer at the event, Timothy McIntosh, said the Equinox Vigil gave him an opportunity to properly mourn with people who understand what he is going through.
“My dad passed away last March,” said McIntosh.
“It has been really hard on me because I didn’t just lose my dad, I lost my best friend as well.”
“I’ve heard about this event in the past but I’ve never really had a reason to come,” said McIntosh.
“Now that my dad has passed though, I think that I’ll continue to come for as long as they’ll have me.
“It’s comforting to know that many of the people here have gone through the same thing that I’m dealing with right now,” said McIntosh.
McIntosh said that he could tell how much time and effort went into planning the Equinox Vigil and said that he appreciates everyone who helped in creating the event.