Nathan Cullen wrote a letter to the minister of public services and procurement regarding the historic cherry trees cut down in Prince Rupert on March 23. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Plans to carve taiko drum sticks from Prince Rupert’s fallen cherry trees

From the North Coast to Ottawa, MP Nathan Cullen calls on government to “rectify the situation”

Rupertites are trying to return some of the wood from the fallen cherry trees to Shotaru Shimizu’s grandson Gregory Shimizu.

Patrick Davis, who was there when the trees were chopped on March 23, and concerned resident, Reid Skelton-Morven, reached out to Big D Contracting — the Terrace-based contractors tasked with cutting down the trees — to arrange for the wood to be shipped to Shimizu in Edmonton.

“We’re waiting for confirmation about when and where we’re shipping, and then we’ll send him the wood,” said Devon Printz, a contractor with Big D.

Shimizu practices taiko, a traditional form of Japanese drumming, and he leads a drumming group called Booming Tree Taiko in Edmonton. He said that in the time since the tree were cut down, he has received emails from people in Prince Rupert talking about what the cherry blossom meant to them.

Shimizu said he was moved by the city’s response.

“It brings you to tears,” Shimizu said. “The childhood memories and what it really meant to their family and their situation.”

Shimizu said he plans to use the wood to create drumming sticks that his group will use in future performances. He has also been contacted by taiko drumming groups across the country who wanted sticks made from the cherry wood.

“That way the spirit of the community can live on in music,” he said.

National attention

The story of Prince Rupert’s beleaguered cherry trees has reached the halls of Ottawa.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen wrote a letter to Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of public services and procurement, on March 28, regarding the cherry trees that were cut down in front of the federal building at the corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue.

In the letter, Cullen addresses the removal of the trees as well as “the current plan to rectify the situation and ensure this lack of oversight does not happen again.”

Cullen also outlined the history of Shotaru Shimizu, the man who gifted the trees to Prince Rupert years after he was ordered to an internment camp.

“These trees serve as a significant reminder of that history within the city,” Cullen wrote.

Cullen said he later had a conversation with Qualtrough in Parliament about the situation, and said they are working on a solution to what happened.

Depending on what the family and community wants, Cullen suggests “for every tree that was killed, we replace it with ten more.”

“And we can try to get a plaque to acknowledge that the trees were there in the first place so that other people can hear the story.”

READ MORE: History behind the cherry trees the feds cut down in Prince Rupert

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