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Ponoka’s Walk of the Cross uses the past as a reminder

Community members gather and walk through Ponoka as part of Good Friday
Community members commemorate Good Friday in Ponoka with the annual Walk of the Cross in downtown Ponoka. Despite the cold spring weather there was a decent crowd of people who took in the walk. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s annual Walk of the Cross was a time for members of Ponoka’s Christian community to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.

The event has been organized by Dan Helm for the last 23 years and is held on Good Friday where Christians of all denominations are invited to walk through downtown carrying a large wooden cross. They walk through Ponoka and say prayers at different stops along the way.

While the spring weather was less than warm, Helm says they hold the walk regardless of weather conditions and temperatures. “It’s a memorial. It’s remembering,” he said of the intent.

It’s a commemoration with a message that Helm has mixed feelings about every year.

“It’s not an easy thing to do because we’re looking at the really ugly side of humanity,” said Helm of acknowledging the suffering that Jesus Christ went through before his death.

“We’re anticipating resurrection but today we’re looking at death and suffering,” he explained. “And things gone wrong.”

When considering suffering and spirituality and how to reconcile the two, Helm feels that humanity needs to understand past mistakes and atrocities to learn from them, another reason for the walk.

“I think of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters who have family, that their bodies have never been found. And worse than that,” said Helm.

“If we don’t listen to those stories and understand them then we are going to perpetuate it.”

He suggests that despite these atrocities being difficult to hear, knowing them will hopefully ensure mankind doesn’t make the same mistakes.

“If you’re not aware then you can’t fix it. If you only talk to people who are like yourself, you just reinforce your own point of view,” explained Helm.

Reverend Donna Willer added her thoughts about the walk and despite past pain and errors, there’s also a positive side.

“We remember victory in that cross,” said Willer. “And that victory was won by Christ.”

She points out that the job for Christians is to remember humanity’s sinfulness but also Christ’s words acknowledging the plan of God.