I lived and volunteered in Edmonton’s inner city in the 90s and early 2000s. I was pleased to learn not long ago that I reside within the official boundary of this part of the inner city. I was also pleased to learn that 108A Avenue has been named Fr. Jim Holland Way in honour of Father Jim Holland, the pastor at the Sacred Church of the First Peoples for over two decades.
I have attended many celebrations at Sacred Heart. It’s always been a place to celebrate social justice events. I’ve attended Oscar Romero and El Salvador celebrations there many times, including the pupusa sales, many funerals, and even a living wake requested by a wonderful woman, Mary Burlie, who didn’t want to miss her own wake!
Several years ago, City Hall received a petition from business people to close Mary Burlie Park. I showed up at City Hall with a few of our long-time social justice supporters including Hank and Tillie Zyp. Mary Burlie Park is still there. It is a reminder to the splendid new bank’s customers across the street, that some of the only things the homeless have are a few park tables in a small park named for a big-hearted Caribbean woman who shared her home and gave all she had to all she claimed as family.