When I review the volume and variety of Plenty Canada projects, it occurs to me that virtually everything our organization does within Canada is a reflection of reconciliation, applied in diverse and creative ways. Several of our projects touch upon the Calls To Action that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued in 2015. Others are the manifestation of good-minded Canadians who felt compelled to get involved — leaders of municipalities, provincial agencies, universities, conservation organizations, non-governmental organizations, art centres, and more — who sincerely seek to engage with Indigenous peoples and organizations like ours to make valuable contributions and play their part toward fulfilling the country’s truth and reconciliation aspirations.
During this time of the year, as we approach the holidays, I’m particularly mindful and grateful of the relationships we have that foster reconciliation. These come in the form of partnerships and alliances whereby we work together toward shared goals and objectives on projects that are deemed beneficial in the fields of conservation, ecological sustainability, and education. Following are three examples, among several Plenty Canada projects, that reflect reconciliation and which are reported in this edition of our Contact newsletter.
With funding provided by the Greenbelt Foundation, and in partnership with Guelph University, along with assists from Brock University, the Bruce Trail Conservancy, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Plenty Canada has recently completed a survey of Indigenous plant life within the Greenbelt. Our team led by Senior Advisor Tim Johnson, comprised of biologists and Indigenous knowledge holders, researched 23 sites located along historic Indigenous trails analyzing 69 plots and resulting in the collection of more than one thousand herbaria specimens and a significant amount of data that will be useful for years to come.
With the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada our organization is assisting in the development and growth of another organization, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, which is responsible for maintaining UNESCO’s official mandate and designation of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Region. This is hugely important work that we take very seriously. As you will read in the article about the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, it is called a network because it works with dozens of organizations all along the Niagara Escarpment, which runs from Tobermory to its southern terminus in Queenston Heights Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Biosphere Network Board Member Liette Vasseur likes to call it a network of networks, and she’s correct. Only by working together can we preserve precious biodiversity and promote responsible public access to the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere.
Reconciliation also benefits from artful inspiration. In partnership with the Bruce Trail Conservancy and Forests Ontario, we are also pleased to announce that our “reconciliation team” has identified two locations for the design and installation of Indigenous healing gardens, one at Cape Chin in the northern part of the Bruce Trail, and the second at Smokey Hollow in Waterdown along the southern part of the Bruce Trail. Curatorial teams are being formed to begin the conceptualization of the gardens, which we hope to see emerge in 2023, so we are greeting the new year with great anticipation.
These are but three active Plenty Canada projects that we consider reconciliation in action. By working together with others on projects that can be successfully accomplished, the process develops effective relations, nurtures respect, and results in lasting friendships. Along these lines, thank you for your support! Have a warm, safe, and Happy Holidays and a most joyful New Year!
Chi Miigwech. Niá:wen. Merci. Maarsii. Thank you.