Surrey’s Day of the Dead event on hold

NEWTON — Surrey has celebrated Halloween, Christmas, Diwali – heck, the City of Parks even holds an annual Fusion Festival to show off how multicultural its population is.

For all its years promoting and celebrating the mosaic of cultures that reside in the city, nowhere has seen a Day of the Dead celebration common in Mexican culture.

Ana David, who works with Latinos in Action, lives in Surrey and wanted to see the Latin culture’s Dia de Muertos recognized at Newton’s Grove.

The holiday, characterized by sugar skulls, marigold flowers and altars memorializing the deceased, takes place on Nov. 1 and is meant to commemorate family members and friends who have passed.

The group, with input from the community, decided to call off the event because of sensitivities around the area – namely, the murder of Julie Paskall in December of last year.

"It’s a celebration, it’s not something that’s grim and scary or anything like that," David said in an interview preceding the group’s decision to call off the event.David also noted that Latinos in Action has been able to put on Vancouver’s annual Latin Festival for the past 14 years but that support, as of yet, hasn’t branched out to Surrey.

"We all concluded that it was just too soon around the murder," David told the Now.

"It was something that had the word ‘dead’ in it, so that was really touchy for the staff especially."Instead, the festivity will be relocating to Joe’s Café on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive this year.

"We’re going to respect everyone’s feelings around that and say ‘maybe next year,’" David confirmed. "It’s just not the right space."

Instead of holding a Day of the Dead celebration at the Grove, however, David is supporting local yoga instructor Tricia Keith in hosting a discussion about death at Newton’s Espresso Café.

"It is a welcome coffee house; no rules, no guidelines, to talk about dying," David said.

"It’s really non-compromising, there’s no ties to any particular culture."

The Death Café is to take place on Nov. 2, which is the Day of the Dead for deceased kids, from 3 to 5 p.m.

To register to attend, contact Tricia Keith at

"Just imagine that: say you’ve had a miscarriage or you’ve lost a child, there’s no place to grieve that. It just gets put away. But if you have a day, one day of the year, where the community comes out to say, ‘Yes, this is the day for our dead children,’ I know how healing that is," Keith said.

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