Arts & Life
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This article was published 11/6/2019 (399 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nikolas Hrominchuk wanted to travel the world, but he never got the chance.
Now, his parents leave ashes from the cremation of their youngest son -- he died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016 – everywhere they go: the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Mexico.
And on Tuesday, Jolie and Nick Hrominchuk buried some of their 32-year-old son’s ashes beneath a small campfire rose bush in a new downtown Winnipeg memorial garden for people who have lost loved ones to addiction.
"It just really makes those places a little bit more special for us," said Jolie Hrominchuk.
The memorial garden, located in Stephen Juba Park on Waterfront Drive, is part of the city’s adopt-a-park program. The initiative sees people partner with the city to maintain a specific park by volunteering to help with tasks like weeding, raking and litter pickup.
For months after her son died, Jolie Hrominchuk said it was too hard for her to speak out about what happened – but after about a year, something changed.
"I think I wanted to, but I was just so paralyzed with grief," she said, standing in a crowd of about two dozen people, all with stories similar to her own.
"But now we’re getting way more involved. It’s really almost becoming our life’s purpose."
For Nicole Last, the head gardener overseeing the new space for the city, this partnership is more personal than most: her 24-year-old brother, Jessie Kolb, died of a fentanyl overdose in 2014.
"There’s a lot of isolation when you lose a family member," said Last. "(The memorial garden) is more of a group space… It’s taking it out of the private and putting it into the public."
Last said helping with the garden could also give families an outlet for their grief.
"It’s so good for the soul," she said. "After my brother died, the only thing I felt calm doing was maintaining my garden."
Last’s mother – Arlene Last-Kolb, who initiated the memorial garden – said she wanted people in her situation to have a place to gather and remember the people they’ve lost.
"Every family that’s lost a loved one – every mother, father that will never see their child again -- they can come here and they can think about the nice memories," Last-Kolb said, looking over her shoulder at a small rose bush that reminds her of the flowers her son had tattooed on his body, and the ones she got inked on her forearm after he died.
"My hope is that this garden will be here forever, and that it will bring comfort."
Updated on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 7:21 PM CDT: Adds photos
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