Corp Comm Connects

Memorial at Aurora park helping to support bereaved families across York Region

The memorial was spearheaded by Vern Cunningham as a way for Bereaved Families of York Region to raise much needed funds at this challenging time
Jan. 11, 2021

When Vern Cunningham’s wife died four-and-a-half years ago, he sought counselling from Bereaved Families of York Region and Hope House Hospice to help cope with the loss.

They helped him work through the devastation and once he felt able to, he has dedicated himself to helping others in the same way as a bereavement counsellor for both organizations.

Last Tuesday, Dec. 29, Cunningham’s work with Bereaved Families of York Region culminated with the unveiling of a new community memorial at Fleury Park that local residents have subscribed to as a place nearby where they can come and remember their loved ones.

More than three dozen plaques affixed to the memorial were dedicated by Cunningham and Mayor Tom Mrakas in a ceremony attended by a handful of socially-distanced individuals who contributed to the memorial and, in turn, have their family members permanently remembered.

The memorial was spearheaded by Cunningham as a way for Bereaved Families of York Region to raise much needed funds at this challenging time.

“With the COVID lockdown, we weren’t able to raise any funds so we came up with this idea where people could come and pay homage to their loved ones who have died,” said Mr. Cunningham. “In a lot of cases, parents or relatives are located in other parts of the country and there is no place where they can go just for the serenity and peace of being with their loved ones. It isn’t the same thing as being at a gravesite, but it is a place where people can come regardless of religion in a beautiful setting.”

For a minimum donation of $100 to Bereaved Families (and a tax receipt of 75 per cent of the amount), individuals can place a memorial plaque on the new landmark, located right where Fleury Park meets the Aurora Community Centre.

Among those who came together for Tuesday’s unveiling were Bob Kerr, whose late wife Kimberley was a tireless community leader, as well as former councillor Damir Vrancic, who dedicated a plaque to his father.

“Kim had so much to do with the town and now she is here,” said Kerr.

Added Mr. Vrancic: “We thought it was a wonderful idea to have a place where we can remember our loved ones. They are always with us, but to have a physical presence that others can see and our children can come is a wonderful thing to have. It is important to remember those who are gone. By keeping their memory alive, by telling stories about them, we keep them in our hearts and others know that they were here, they mattered, and made a difference.”

Donations to Bereaved Families of York Region allow the organization to provide services to grieving individuals and families across nine municipalities.

Contributing to making this memorial a reality were the Town of Aurora who helped pinpoint the ideal location for the installation, as well as the Aurora-based Almac Industrial Systems who not only donated the stainless steel material to make the sign but fabricated the sign as well.

“We would like to see a memorial like this in every municipality in York Region just to honour their loved ones,” said Mr. Cunningham. “It doesn’t have to be people who communicated with Bereaved Families; it could be anyone who has died. It is for everyone, the whole population. We will keep adding to the sign and keep adding more memorials.”

For more information about Bereaved Families of York Region, including services and how to have your loved ones memorialized on a plaque, visit or call 905-898-6265.