On Aug. 14 the Japanese Cowichan community cleaned some of the Mountain View Cemetery gravestones located at the Drinkwater and Somenos intersection. In Japan, people pay respect to their ancestors during a long weekend called Obon. During Obon, people return to their hometown to visit graves because the spirits of their ancestors return from the afterlife to spend time with people here on Earth. Several of the people who attended this community event at Mountain View Cemetery did not have a direct ancestral connection to this graveyard, however giving thanks to ancestors, respecting community elders, and to connecting with community is valued.
In the North Cowichan at the Mountain View cemetery, some of the attendees bowed their heads and thanked their ancestors in a moment of silence, while others paid their respects by cleaning the gravestones. This year, the Buddhist minister from the Steveston Buddhist Temple was not able to attend in person, but a ceremony was held at 11:15 am via zoom. The Buddhist minister Grant Ikuta spoke about the importance of working together, helping others, and how sharing time together during this pandemic so important. His story about the Giant chopsticks with this moral to the story was appreciated by all.
In past years, the grave site cleaning was completed by just Mutsu and her husband Bill, and it took them all day. By writing this article we would like to thank fantastic community efforts of people like Mutsu and Bill (our elders) who are reminding us of what is important in life. A special thank-you Mutsu and Atsuko for organizing this community event. Thank-you to all community members who remind us that taking time out of our day to be thankful for what we have is important. Taking time to work together and help each other is what makes our community stronger and healthier.