In the quiet of the forest near the Arundel Science Centre, there stands a simple inukshuk—an Inuit stone sculpture—as a silent memorial to Marie-Andrée Forget, who lived near Matane and died in Quebec City on Oct. 19, 2019. She was the grandmother of Luka Bienvenue, a Grade 7 student at Selwyn House.
When she died, Luka was scheduled to go on a camping trip with the Selwyn House Outdoor Education program. His mother, Kim Snabl, daughter of retired Selwyn House receptionist Anne-Marie Snabl, decided that Luka should go on the trip as planned while the family was in Quebec City making funeral arrangements. But she knew he was dealing with the grief of his loss, so she suggested he might build a small inukshuk in the woods as a tribute to his grandmother.
When Luka told trip leaders Cory Deegan and Matt McCarney of his plan, they decided it to turn it into an exercise for the whole group. They discussed with the boys the history and meaning of inukshuks, and sent them off into the woods with the instruction that each one should find a stone that would make him think of someone he has lost, or someone who might be struggling in life. As it happens, one of the other boys had lost his grandmother that same week.
Starting with Luka’s stone, the boys came up one by one and started building the inukshuk, then stood around it for a brief ceremony. “There were some tears at the end,” says Outdoor Education Program Coordinator Cory Deegan. “It was a good quiet moment, for sure. Luka was taken care of, but still had his moment to grieve.”
Luka’s mom, Kim, says she was very touched by the whole experience. “Luka came home feeling loved,” she says.
“They are such gentlemen and such great teachers,” she says of McCarney and Deegan. “The school has such a super staff. I know that my son is in safe hands at all times.”
“It brings tears to my eyes.”
Now, the boys have returned to Selwyn House, but the inukshuk still stands in the woods, where only the wind and the birds break the silence.