‘A sense of belonging’: Wishing Tree brings hope, positivity to Fernwood


It may take the crown as the most vibrant neighbourhood in Victoria, and a particular tree in its main square may be the quirkiest of all.

People can take their wish, ink it onto paper and fasten it to the Wishing Tree in Fernwood. It’s stood tall for a decade and has seen countless dreams become reality.

“My wish has come true,” exclaimed Fernwood NRG‘s Mila Czemerys, who brought the Wishing Tree idea to fruition alongside Kathryn Juricic.

It’s a feat that flourished at FernFest all those years ago, thanks to the two colleagues turned friends — a relationship that blossomed kind of like the tree.

Just call them benevolent buds for their idea brings hope, taking inspiration from a tree in Japan. In Fernwood, some yearn for love, a new furry companion, or to move to B.C.’s capital.

“I think this project really shows how even if we’re different, we share similar dreams and wishes,” said Czemerys.

And some wishes stick with you.

“They say the first wish they shared was ‘I wish I matter.’ And then a few weeks later, they came and they saw their wish and it said, ‘You do matter,'” she recalled. 

“It’s moments like that that make projects like this so important.”

So, the organizers want others to follow their lead because you never know the good it could bring to someone in a tough spot.

“I think the wishing tree does bring hope and positivity to the community, and also, there’s room everywhere for people to set up interactive art projects,” said Juricic, who works with the Fernwood Community Association.

“It does lead to a sense of belonging in a community.”

Found along Fernwood Road, it’s a tree of courage, colour and connectivity, needed now more than ever.

“I do know that there’s been a lot more isolation in our communities, and have a place where people can come visit on their lunch hour, on a walk in the neighbourhood…” said Czemerys.

And it comes at practically no cost.

“It just takes a couple of people to care and tend, and over time you create this little myth that catches a lot of people,” said Juricic. “The value of this project is what the neighbourhood brings to it,” added Czemerys.

Still standing 10 years later, awaiting your wish — because it just might come true.

READ ALSO: ‘It’s lovely’: Teacup tree in James Bay gets national attention

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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