Bert Church High School is creating a Reconciliation Garden to help remember those that lost their lives at residential schools and everything the Indigenous community has had to live with.
Jennifer Williams, a Social Studies and Indigenous Studies Teacher at Bert Church is the lead on this project and says the initiative helps show just how much their hearts are broken from what the Indigenous community has had to go through.
“The idea was to create a garden and so one of the first things we did is we reached out to indigenous knowledge keepers. We said this can't just be another project that the settlers come in and go, ‘let's plant some tulips and daffodils, and make a pretty garden.’ We wanted to have indigenous people come and guide us as we created it. Then throughout last semester, the Indigenous Studies class studied the different plants with the knowledge keepers. We learned about medicinal plants, Sacred plants, edible plants, and also indigenous symbolism.”
Now with school back in session, they are putting it all together. The garden will be shaped like a turtle in reference to Turtle Island. One side of the garden will be traditional indigenous edible plants, and the other side will be traditional medicinal plants. In the very center, there will be a sacred circle with orange rocks that students painted messages of hope on.
“We've now laid the foundation; we've spent two weekends pulling up the sod and then laying down the soil base. This Saturday, we'll actually be planting the plants. So, we're actually hoping most of it will be done by basically next week.”
Briar Munro, one of the students working on the garden at Bert Church, said this project is important because the students want to show that they care and are willing to help.
“We need to recognize that we are here to help and support the indigenous people who have gone through the effects and are coping with the effects of residential schools. I think that it's good to show that we are here for them and we want to help them as much as we can.”
Daniel Maiklem, another student at Bert Church says we can never truly repay for what has happened at residential schools, but at least this garden would show that there is recognition of what wrongs have been done
Williams wanted to make sure to thank everybody that is and has been helping out with this project, from the landscape architect to all the sponsors. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $6,000.
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