Murray Harbour lobster trap tree to honour local fishermen

·3 min read

Last year, Kimberly Hicken and her family travelled to Tignish, P.E.I., to watch the lighting of the lobster trap tree and to place a buoy on it in memory of their heir son, Jordan.

"It was an honour to place that there for our son," said Kimberly. "It was an honour. Our son lived and breathed to fish."

It was the family's first holiday season without their son. Jordan went overboard while fishing off of Naufrage, off the north shore of eastern P.E.I., in May 2019.

The 22-year-old was from Montague. His body was never recovered.

The family won't have to travel to the other side of P.E.I. to honour their son this year. Murray Harbour has built its own lobster trap tree.

"It means a lot to have it in a surrounding community," said Kimberly. "It means a lot to our family.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"This will be our second holiday to go through without our son and, so, it's nice to be able to gather in our community and to be able to honour him in that way."

There is already a buoy on the tree with Jordan's name on it.

Kimberly said she expects there will be more, as her son had a large number of friends who fish in that community. Hicken said the family hasn't placed their buoy on the tree yet.

It will be emotional when they do.

"It will mean the world to my family, the world," she said.

Project by Murray Harbour council

The tree was a project initiated by council in Murray Harbour.

Carol White, a councillor in Murray Harbour, said it was inspired by the tree in Tignish. She hopes it serves as a monument to the sea.

"We spend our summers on the sea and, I mean, this whole area, it belongs to the sea and the fishermen," she said.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

The traps, lights and decorations were donated by people from the surrounding communities, said Gary MacKay, another councillor in the community.

"We're a small community, probably less than 300 people, give or take," he said. "And they all want to be part of the village. They want to see something like this, and especially these times with the COVID protocols and the challenges we face with that.

"It's certainly more than just a tree. It's something like a community centre now."

The town is encouraging people to hang buoys on the tree for anyone from the community they have lost, at sea or otherwise, said MacKay.

The town will hold an official tree lighting on Dec. 4. The town plans to leave the tree up all year.

"It'll be a symbol of good, it'll be a symbol of community commitment," MacKay said. "It'll be a symbol of love for everybody that passes through or lives here."

Natalie Edgar, one of the volunteers who helped in the creation of the tree, said being a part of it has made her feel more a member of the community.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"It's a beautiful testament to those that have been lost at sea, to those that fish every day and risk their lives for us by going out and fishing every day," she said.

For Hicken, she just wants to make sure that the town and council know just how much it means to her family.

"From the bottom of our hearts, thank you."

More from CBC P.E.I.