jenna morrison memorial footpath: stepping beyond the yoga community
Jenna Morrison was a yoga teacher, mother and community organizer killed while cycling through her Toronto neighbourhood in November 2011. An active member of the Toronto yoga community, her memory lives on and will be honoured in a Korean-style reflexology footpath in Dufferin Grove Park.
On a cold April evening, I met up with her good friend Aidan Lawrence in a Montreal café to hear more about the project. He’s working with Morrison’s husband, Florian Shuck, and a group of friends in Toronto to raise the $120,000 necessary to build the footpath.
“Jenna was the hub of many communities,” Lawrence told me. “Her death drew together the bike, yoga and healing communities.”
During a visit to South Korea in 2001, Jenna discovered the reflexology footpaths which are popular throughout Asia. Upon her return to Toronto, she dreamed of creating a similar footpath in one of the city’s public parks.
Reflexology footpaths are concrete walkways with embedded cobblestones of differing shapes and sizes to massage the acupressure points in the soles of the feet. Dufferin Grove Park, home to a community pizza oven and a summer farmer’s market, was one of Jenna’s favourite places and the perfect location for the footpath.
The project has gotten approval from the city and construction is expected to begin in spring 2014, with completion by summer. It will be the first reflexology footpath in Canada. An April launch party raised about $4,500, Ward 18 (the part of Toronto where Jenna lived) councilor Ana Bailao contributed $15,000, and with donations from the memorial website, the total so far is about $24,000.
It’s still a long way off from the goal, and even after the denial of a grant application to a local foundation, the group is getting creative with their fundraising approach. A neighbourhood barbeque is set for June and the fundraisers are looking into other grant possibilities.
The footpath is meant to embody Jenna’s love of healing, community and service. “It’s like Jenna’s spirit,” Lawrence said. “It’s not just a park bench where you remember a dead person. It’s somewhere that kids and old people will go. It will have a healing vibe.”