A large crowd gathered in Royal University Hospital’s Royal Gardens on June 9 for the unveiling of the Memory Tree, a monument that pays tribute to the caring and compassionate people who, through their work and life, have contributed to the legacy of Royal University Hospital over its 60-year history.

The Memory Tree

This Memory Tree is meant to honour employees and volunteers at RUH who have passed away.

The idea of having a permanent place at Royal University Hospital (RUH) to remember co-workers and volunteers who have passed away originated in 2012 with the passing of Warren Chykowski from the Respiratory Therapy Department. His friends and co-workers asked the RUH Foundation for ideas on what might be done within the facility to honour a life well-lived and the impact he had on patient care.

They came up with the Memory Tree.

“When the idea of creating a permanent place to honour employees and volunteers who had passed away we were pleased to support this through a HUG grant,” reported RUH Foundation Volunteer Chair Bryan Leverick.

“The Memory Tree was designed and installed by Remnant Steel and was funded by donations in memory of Chykowski, and through a grant by the RUH Foundation HUG Fund in recognition of the RUH 60th Anniversary in 2015,” said Luiza Kent-Smith, Director and Site Leader Royal University Hospital.

HUG (Helping, Understanding, Giving) grants supports the “softer” side of care. Initiatives funded by HUG improve the quality of care for patients during a hospital stay or support staff morale initiatives.

Standing nine feet tall, the Memory Tree is permanently attached to the wall of RUH in the Golden Jubilee Gardens. Stainless steel leaves have been produced and each leaf will be attached to the tree and/or hung from one of the branches. The RUH Foundation will maintain the leaves and will arrange for the inscribing and hanging of the leaves.

Any RUH employee, volunteer or department can purchase a leaf for $250. The name of the person being remembered, the department they worked in and their life cycle dates will be inscribed on the leaf.

“The (RUH) building has changed since 1955, and will continue adapting to serve the health care needs of Saskatchewan’s people. This monument will stay, however; serving as a reminder of all the people who have worked and volunteered at this facility, and who have made it what it is today. To stride boldly into the future, we need to remember and respect the past, and that is just what this tree does – it reminds us of those who have gone before, and of all they have given to RUH, and to us,” said Dan Florizone, President and CEO of Saskatoon Health Region.

“All I have to do is look around this garden to see all of those people that made what Royal University Hospital is today,” Tony Dagnone, former CEO of RUH, told the crowd gathered at the unveiling. “We are celebrating an anniversary today…. Sixty years to me speaks to the resilience and the endurance of people like you who are associated with this great hospital. I feel so honoured in being a very small part of the Royal University Hospital journey…. It seems like we collectively have one common, shared goal, and that was to deliver on the core promises of Medicare to the people of Saskatchewan… in a very professional and caring manner.”

On hand at the unveiling ceremony were Chykowski’s partner Bernie McLean, his mother Faye and sister Tamara, as well as his colleagues, including Lisa Martin, who was part of bringing the Memory Tree to life.

The Chykowski family, McLean, Kent-Smith and Arla Gustafson, President and CEO of the RUH Foundation, joined Florizone, Leverick and Dagnone in unveiling the Memory Tree and its commemorative plaque.

The group unveils the Memory Tree

The unveiling of the Memory Tree was done by this group: (from left) Bernie McLean,Tamara and Faye Chykowski, Bryan Leverick, Arla Gustafson, Tony Dagnone, Luiza Kent-Smith and Dan Florizone.