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Jan McNeely, the Diamond Jenness Secondary School liaison to its Parent Action Committee, displays the names of people remembered by this year’s Christmas Memory Tree.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

For the 18th year, the Christmas Memory Tree is honouring departed loved ones.

The lighting of the tree – atop Diamond Jenness Secondary School – took place on Dec. 16.

The Christmas Memory Tree is presented by the Parent Action Committee (PAC) at the school.

Paulette West, the president of the PAC, believes the Christmas Memory Tree has become a tradition in Hay River.

“I know I look forward every year to seeing the tree lit up and knowing that my loved ones are being remembered this year,” she said.

The Christmas Memory Tree remains lit until early in the New Year when school resumes after the Christmas break.

People pledge $20 for each white bulb placed on the tree.

“This year we sold 60,” said West. “It was a very low number this year compared to in the past.”

Last year, there were 100 bulbs sold.

West said she is not sure why fewer bulbs were sold this year, but it may be related to the fact that organizers were not out in the public selling bulbs because of Covid-19.

Normally, they would set up a table at stores and have pledges to sign, she explained. “And this year we didn’t do that.”

Still, West thinks that 60 bulbs sold is good support from the community.

“I think 60 is quite a bit,” she said. “It’s a pretty decent number.”

Even the actual lighting of the tree this year was impacted by Covid-19.

“It did affect us because we couldn’t gather this year,” said West. “We normally gather at the school and we have a tree inside the school that everybody actually stands around, and then there’s somebody that’s in the room that basically flips the switch for the one outside to turn on.”

A planned viewing of the tree on Dec. 16 from the parking lot of the Mackenzie Place highrise did not take place because of extreme cold.

The names of the people remembered by the Christmas Memory Tree are displayed at Diamond Jenness throughout the year.

The money raised by the Christmas Memory Tree goes back into the school for a variety of uses.

Teachers write proposals if they have ideas on how the money should be spent.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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