As reported in Plenty Canada’s most recent donor letter (and in a few recent newsletter communications), the Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Daycare Center in South Africa has been a tremendous success for both Plenty Canada and its allies in the region. The Center has a undergone a number of crucial improvements, such as the construction of a rainwater storage system and the growing of a vegetable garden, that make the space more friendly to children and more environmentally sustainable.
Of course, Plenty Canada believes that it is important to celebrate the human side of these milestones as well, to highlight the actual people whose lives will be changed by this project. On that note, Plenty Canada would like to take a moment to commemorate the graduation of 31 children from the Daycare Center’s program in December of this past year.
Their date of graduation was marked by a ceremony with the children's parents in attendance, in which all the graduates received a diploma commemorating their time at the Center.
The breadth of their education, and its impact on their future, cannot be overstated, and is best illustrated by this quote from Remember Nyango, founder of the Center:
“Our Tsundzukani Daycare Centre's mission is to prepare academically the children from the deep rural communities of the Mpumalanga province, so that they can go out there and face the modern world of today. This will also include teaching them music, dance and other art forms thus providing them with a sense of cultural identity and pride for their Indigenous traditions.”
As you can see, the Daycare Center is not merely a space to look after the children while their parents are at work -- though it does accomplish that crucial function as well, of course. Not only does the program increase their chances of academic success further down the line, a huge boost to their future economic prospects, but it also provides them with a robust Indigenous cultural education. This cultural education, to Plenty Canada, is just important as every other element of the daycare program. After all, material success is valuable, but restoring and preserving ties to traditional cultures is a core part of the Daycare's, and Plenty Canada's, missions.
If the news of a mass graduation of children has you wondering whether or not the program is beginning to wind down or decrease in scope, rest assured that this could not be further from the truth. During the 2023 school year, the Daycare Center has over 60 children attending classes. That's 60 children whose parents will be able to work, assured that their children are receiving loving care and a great education; 60 children whose childhoods and futures will be enriched through cultural connections and education.
Things are only looking up for the Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Daycare Center. Between Remember Nyango's dedication and Plenty Canada's assistance, it seems like there's almost no limit to the ways in which the Center will grow and evolve in the future.
— Mwana Burmudes and Breton Campbell
Recent visits to community projects in Cuba included horseback treks to mountain homesteads and caserios, where Native families farm in remote areas of the dense eastern Cuban forest. I traveled with colleague Larry McDermott, Plenty Canada executive director and long-time partner in Indigenous international sustainable development.
Freddy Martinez Ramirez has a farm a bit over two hours up the mountain on a horse trail that fords sixteen passes of the serpentine Jojó River. The farms are carved out of patches of more-or-less level land, which yield fields of corn and beans, yuca, pineapple, and other crops. This is farming by the old Taino “coa,” or planting stick, these days also called, “planting by machete.” Baracoa friends dropped us at Veguitas, where Freddy awaited with saddled horses.
This visit in the Oriente easternmost mountains came toward the end of a journey that began in the capital of Havana, traveling east by car and bus, to project farms El Cotorro, a rural municipality of Havana, to Camagüey, and Guantanamo and Baracoa, and near the tip of Cuba at farthermost Cajobabo. We visited four farms out of some fifteen among Gran Familia communities linked in the agricultural network. These days, economic conditions call for substantial attention to food self-sufficiency throughout the country, and the Gran Familia farmers are intent on providing a resounding national model for their effort.
In Camagüey, Finca Yucahu, at the guajiro homestead farm of Ivan Cabrera, a large field is ready for planting with yuca. Young Ivan and his group and their council of elders are striving to produce on a variety of levels. Animal husbandry in pork, goat and cattle, fields of guayaba, aguacate, plantain, and vegetables are in full activity, while construction of thatched, bohio-style ranchones are built to protect animals.
Vladis and Idalis Ramirez, from La Rancheria and Panchito’s son and daughter leaders, who had joined the trip in Havana, helped in ceremony at Finca Yucahu, where all the work was prayed over for good timing and reliability of rains and sun (change in climate — rains — is impacting planting times), and for unity of purpose among Gran Familia homesteads. Vladis follows his father Panchito now as the head farmer at La Rancheria, where large fields of corn, beans and other crops are also the way of life. Older sister Almeida and several younger women run large kitchen gardens and her own kitchen is always full of activity. Brother Inoel, and next generation cousins, Yasmany and Pepino, are also persistent farmers in their fields and with their animal husbandry.
There are several other farms in the network, two more at Cajobabo, a large one coming along in the Tames municipality, two farms of brothers at the Yateras hamlet of Bernardo, and several more in two communities along the Toa River, near Baracoa. Following the cacique’s orientationthere is ample and deeply felt collaboration among these farming families. The strong need of thesmall farmers is for all manner of agricultural materials, instruments and tools, such as machetes, hoes, wire fencing, pumps, irrigation lines, small windmills, and such. The commitment is to self-sufficiency among the Gran Familia and food sovereignty for the country.
As the work and production in the various farms increasingly connect and mutual planning grows, the direction is in cross-country cooperative production of the traditional yuca (manioc) tuber, the central crop of Taino agriculture, which continues in very active, widespread practice among guajiro farmers. The crop, in its many varieties, is highly useful as human and animal food. Its refinement in value-added product is the traditional casabe tort, cooked by masters in “casaberia” ovens. The intent is to form a system of farms with their own casaberias and ovens and elaborating a growing volume of casabe, for the Cuban public and for tourism and external markets.
- Jose Barreiro
The Makwa Inn of the Plenty Canada CampUs is nearing completion during extensive renovations. Regardless of the difficult weather this winter, significant progress has been made on the sustainable building project, both inside and out.
A great deal of care has been given to the Inn’s building envelope with significant upgrades as we look to maintain net zero goals. The Inn’s siding is made of locally sourced white cedar painted in environment friendly “wild sage” linseed oil paint. New high efficiency windows and doors will be installed as well as a new accessible entrance.
Upon entering the Makwa Inn guests will be welcomed to a new community space, including a full kitchen where food sovereignty will be a focus. Sharing of knowledge will take place in the furnished meeting and workshop space. On the second floor the dorm space is being completed with a kitchenette and bathroom for providing accommodations.
At the lower level the Inn will soon have a high efficiency HVAC system installed with superior air cleaning capabilities. Additionally, there is an advanced septic and rainwater harvesting system that are both practical for the operations of the Inn, and key components of the sustainable building demonstration project we are completing.
We look forward to welcoming community groups to learn and assist in co-creating this ethical space. The completion of the project will result in Plenty Canada’s development of a land-based learning centre, while providing a place for Indigenous and western knowledge systems to interact and be shared with mutual respect, kindness, and generosity.
Meegwetch to the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for providing the funding that has enabled these significant, sustainable renovations to the buildings at Plenty Canada, to proceed.
— Louise Sherwood
Plenty Canada, in partnership with the Town of Lincoln and other Indigenous stakeholders, is accepting proposals from Indigenous artists, or Indigenous-led artist teams, to produce two (2) public artworks to be incorporated within Jordan Hollow Indigenous Cultural Park (at 3039 King St. Jordan, L0R 1S0). Each artist or artist team will be responsible for creating one (1) public artwork.
Plenty Canada received a non-repayable contribution of $180,00 through the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund to support this project.
To read more of the RFP, you can download the full pdf copy by clicking here.
You can also view the full RFP here:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Appointment signals enhanced support for Indigenous arts, education, and public discourse.
January 12, 2023
From its Six Nations Bureau office, Plenty Canada is pleased to announce the hiring of Karl Dockstader as an Advisor for Indigenous Content, Culture, and Protocol. Karl, who is well known in the Niagara Region, brings to the position a wealth of knowledge and experience in Indigenous organizational management, visual and media arts, and cultural protocol and practice.His involvement will strengthen an already capable and successful team while extending outreach and engagement.
“We’re delighted that Karl has come on board,” said Tim Johnson, Plenty Canada senior advisor. “I’ve long thought that his superpower is his humility, which serves as a translucent facade behind which resides deep intelligence, creativity, integrity, and wisdom. In this organization we also consider functionality and positive personality traits as being essential qualifications. In this regard, Karl’s palpable love of his family, community, and Bear Clan Oneida culture, along with his inquisitive nature and voracious quest for learning, make him a true value-add for our team.”
As a self-described “Friendship Centre baby,” Karl had the honour of serving as executive director of the Niagara Regional Native Centre, which followed years of front-line community work with Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. He is an advocate and activist for grassroots initiatives who is unafraid to take bold stances on matters that affect Indigenous peoples, and has used art and communication, including podcasting, to support community achievement goals.
Karl is perhaps best known for co-hosting the hit Indigenous-themed radio program One Dish, One Mic that airs in Niagara, London, Windsor, and Hamilton. He is also a Bell Media radio news rotating talk show host on 610 CKTB’s The Drive airing weekdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to radio broadcasting Karl has done TV work with CTV News Channel, appeared as a regular panellist on the politics show CTV Power Play for the 2021 to 2022 season, and done a variety of freelance work, generating CBC and Canadaland bylines.
“Karl Dockstader is an outstanding communicator and leader,” said Walter Sendzik, former mayor of the City of St. Catharines. “Though his work with his radio program One Dish, One Mic, Karl has established himself as a leading voice on Indigenous issues within Canada. In Niagara, Karl is a leader, knowledge keeper, and community builder. He has worked on numerous projects that have brought a strong sense of awareness and inclusion of First Nation peoples in our shared communities.”
In his advisory capacity Karl will produce and host Plenty Canada webinars that will focus on a range of Indigenous issues spanning culture, language, and current events to matters of the environment including the existential crisis that is climate change. He will also represent the organization at Plenty Canada programs, events, and meetings, as well as attending events hosted by other partner organizations. And he will be on call to receive and answer inquiries of a general nature where his insights and recommendations will prove invaluable.
“Karl’s knowledge of his Oneida culture brings a great deal of expertise to our work as we roll out projects in the region dealing with Indigenous-led conservation, Indigenous education, and all manner of Indigenous cultural expression,” said Larry McDermott, Algonquin elder and executive director of Plenty Canada. “Many of our graduate students from our Leadership in Conservation program with Guelph University, for example, have praised Karl regarding his contributions in providing Haudenosaunee cultural representation. He is very skilled and will have a significant influence on our work.”
Plenty Canada is extremely grateful for the opportunity to co-lead, alongside the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership and Environment and Climate Change Canada, an event commemorating the Pathway to Canada Target 1 process, during the CBD COP15 (Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) in Montreal on December 11th.
“Pathway to Canada Target 1” was Canada's initiative to engage rights-holders and stakeholders in advancing Aichi Target 11 (by 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas are conserved). The Pathway process was notable in that right from the outset and at every step, it was informed by Indigenous governance and protocol.
This initiative was a great success, acting as a catalyst for the national support of Indigenous-led conservation, and provides a valuable blueprint for future projects of a similar nature. Plenty Canada's presentation was created with the goals to celebrate these historical successes and consider how we can use the lessons learned from the Pathway process beyond 2020.
Plenty Canada Executive Director Larry McDermott began the presentation with a smudge ceremony, which was followed by opening remarks and a fascinating panel discussion. Alongside Larry, the panel was filled with prestigious figures, including Chloe Dragon Smith, Curtis Scurr, Marilyn Capreol, Julie Boucher, and Dawn Carr.
The panel covered a tremendous amount of temporal and theoretical ground in a relatively short time. Larry and the other panelists discussed Canada's origin story as it speaks to the original vision of conservation between Indigenous and colonial peoples, the origins of Pathway to Canada Target 1, their personal experiences with the Pathway process, steps taken to date, and plans for moving forward.
During the panel session, the floor was opened to the audience to ask questions and dialogue with the panelists, emphasizing the collaborative nature of both the event itself and the Indigenous/non-Indigenous environmental initiatives that the event described. It was a wonderful event, made all the greater by the eagerness and participation of the delegates and other guests in attendance, highlighting the importance of relationships in conservation work. Plenty Canada hopes that this event demonstrated to the Canadian delegation and other parties how they can work with Indigenous peoples, and their knowledge systems, to work towards the 2030 biodiversity targets and beyond.
If you missed watching the event live, you can watch the recording on Plenty Canada’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfNITaopIYM.
— Breton Campbell
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.
Plenty Canada has completed Year 1 of its Greenbelt Foundation funded project entitled Nbwaakaawining binjibaamgad Gkendmaawziwin (Wisdom from Knowledge): Documenting and Sharing the Indigenous Biocultural Richness of the Greenbelt. In partnership with Guelph University and allegiance with the Bruce Trail Conservancy, Indigenous knowledge and Western science were used to identify and assess the presence and status of Indigenous plants within Ontario’s Greenbelt. The work involved conducting comprehensive Indigenous ethnobotanical research and biodiversity surveys at 23 sites, analyzing a total of 69 plots, along historic Indigenous trails within the Greenbelt.
The primary goal of the project was to begin restoring Indigenous knowledge, visibility and character to the Greenbelt as an important Indigenous cultural landscape within Ontario. The project has four Activities to be executed over two to three years:
• Research and completion of an ethnobotanical survey of culturally significant plants in the Greenbelt, including medicinal trees and plants (where deemed culturally appropriate and safe) and Indigenous foods and uses in the Greenbelt, e.g., spring ephemerals, summer berries, fruits and vegetables, autumn nuts, roots, and mushrooms.
• The technical adaptation of Plenty Canada’s existing prototype interactive digital map of the Niagara Escarpment to cover the entire Greenbelt region. In using this established platform, which has been developed in consultation with numerous Indigenous advisors over the past several years, the Greenbelt Indigenous plant survey will indicate areas and ethnobotanical plant knowledge and information, and will receive its own name and identity that will be activated during Year 2.
• The development of a pedagogical strategy that utilizes the Indigenous biocultural mapping content to appropriately process and share Indigenous histories, knowledge, and stories of the Greenbelt in ways that will make learning accessible, interesting, enjoyable, and purposeful. Place-based learning, sometimes called pedagogy of place, has gained ascension in teaching practices and educational curricula for its immersive and experiential qualities that connect students to local heritage, cultures, landscapes, ecosystems, and experiences that serve as a foundation for understanding Indigenous histories and scientific knowledge.
• The production of an ethnoecological Indigenous plant field guide in both digital and print publication formats to enhance and support cross-cultural training for the public with particular attention paid to the membership of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance in forging and sustaining partnerships with the Indigenous peoples of the Greenbelt. The web platform will be entitled the Greenbelt Indigenous Botanical Survey and the print product will be named the Greenbelt Indigenous Botanical Field Guide.
Some of the outcomes of this project, prior to publication, are the development and facilitation of relationships between Indigenous knowledge holders and conservation organizations in the Greenbelt. These relationships are significant and burgeoning. The team’s ethnobotanical, archival and field research provides evidence that the Greenbelt is an important Indigenous cultural and biological landscape, and has been, for thousands of years. Thus our project aim and methods are to demonstrate the Greenbelt’s cultural and ecological necessity to southern Ontario, as a landscape that provides critical biodiversity and ecosystem services, but is also a beautiful and accessible public good across cultures, which can be enjoyed and cared for by everyone.
Learning cultural relationships with these landscapes helps empower people to know, appreciate, and protect them. As well, the data we have collected far supersedes the amount we will use. For example, more than one thousand herbaria specimens collected by the team will be useful, for years and years after this project, in demonstrating the plant biodiversity of the Greenbelt. In addition, all of the gathered ethnobotanical and archival data gathered from museum collections is shared among the Indigenous cultural educators on the project, who can in turn use it for their pedagogy.
Our publications, the field guide and digital atlas, will be broadly accessible and aesthetically beautiful productions for the public to use, to engage in place-based learning when they travel to locations throughout the Greenbelt.
We intend for these works to be ready for publication by December 2023. It is also worth noting that some of the sites the team surveyed are in close proximity to areas proposed in Bill 23 to be removed from protection within the Greenbelt (Boyd Conservation Area, two blocks from Vaughan North of Teston Road and East of Pine Valley Drive; Dundas Valley Conservation area in Hamilton, two blocks from development south of Garner road West, between Fiddler’s Green Road and Shaver Road). Thus, the project has generated current data from this year, on plant and tree species diversity and richness of those protected areas.
— Tim Johnson, Jessica Dolan, Yu Zhao (Mia) Ni
Foremost in the minds of the board members of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network is protecting the sanctity of ecosystems that harbour species at risk and advancing conservation ethics and practice. As the grassroots and community-based organization that maintains UNESCO’s mandate and designation of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Region, the Network strives to enlighten and inspire everyone to help preserve the biodiversity of life present along one of Canada’s most magnificent landforms.
Plenty Canada, with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, is working to nurture and develop the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network. Since its first public launch event held at The Brown Homestead in April of this year, with a second event held at Cape Croker Park in May, the organization has worked diligently to establish a highly credentialed board of directors and identify its operational and program objectives.
Operationally, as a UNESCO biosphere region, the Network has positioned itself at the leading edge of creating an Indigenous co-governance model that both imbeds and ensures that Indigenous leadership and participation are structurally built into the organization. For example, the president and chair of the organization is Patrick Robson, a professor of Environmental Studies at Niagara College. The vice president and vice chair is Charlene Winger-Jones, a water walker and environmental activist from Neyaashiinigamiing (Land Surrounded By Water). The Board includes other Indigenous members and specialists with expertise ranging from municipal government, biology, and community planning to education, conservation, and more.
Cognizant that the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere houses nearly a quarter of Canada’s species at risk, where organizations and landowners require support, encouragement, and sometimes guidance to ensure their continued commitment to conservation, the Network is currently collaborating with partners to ensure that varied ecosystems are valued. This includes considerations around gathering data and information to develop maps, information sheets, and signage that connect the public to sensitive and precious environmental areas. Increasing public awareness regarding the importance of biodiversity and its conservation along the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere is critical. It is envisioned that information sheets will also discuss other aspects such as the role the Biosphere plays in climate regulation and the importance of trees and green infrastructure as expressions of climate action.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived there has been an increase in visitors to the Bruce Trail and adjacent side trails and parks. However, most people don’t necessarily understand the importance of the Biosphere for conservation and the rich biodiversity it contains. The Biosphere is home to many endangered or threatened species including the Jefferson Salamander, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, the Southern Flying-squirrel, and the Eastern Pipistrelle bat. Unfortunately, very little signage and information is available along these trails and parks to inform visitors when they are walking through sensitive areas. Furthermore, most people are not aware that they are visiting a UNESCO biosphere region with a core zone; over 76 percent of the Niagara Escarpment being protected for its biodiversity. Considering the pressures for urbanisation and agricultural expansion, it is urgent to improve the awareness of people to better protect these regions that contain a high level of biodiversity, including several species at risk.
These efforts were all brought to the fore during a Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network conference session held at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines in September. The event featured officials of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network and representatives of network organizations explaining the importance of preserving the Niagara Escarpment. They included Gimaa Kwe Veronica Smith from the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, Chief Executive Officer of the Bruce Trail Conservancy Michael McDonald, Network board members Patrick Robson, Tim Johnson, Liette Vasseur, Larry McDermott, Mark Zelinski, Walter Sendzik (then St. Catharines Mayor), and Victoria Serda. Others included Town of Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton, Niagara Parks Senior Executive Steve Barnhart, and tourism specialist Michael Hallé. The presentations and conversations were deep and extensive. In an effort to address profound and increasing environmental challenges, a program also featured stunning never-seen-before photography and aerial and drone video of the Niagara Escarpment by Mark Zelinski.
Among a range of other activities underway, the Network is conducting reviews and beginning research for the next Periodic Review of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Region. These reviews take place every ten years and are required for the maintenance of UNESCO’s biosphere designation.
— Tim Johnson, Bradley May, Liette Vasseur
In collaboration with Bruce Trail Conservancy, Forest Ontario, and Indigenous partners, Plenty Canada has identified the locations for two new Indigenous Healing Gardens.
Healing Gardens, also known as Healing Places, are havens used to meaningfully engage Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in a restorative process, creating physical places of healing while at the same time cultivating safe and ethical spaces. They are intended to provide spatial experiences defined by natural elements that convey Indigenous principles and teachings and nurture a healing process of reconciliation.
The identification of the new garden locations took place over a two-day assessment trip during which the team visited five sites along the Bruce Trail recommended by Brian Popelier, land stewardship coordinator and ecologist for the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
The first day of travelling took place in the southern region of Ontario. The group comprised two from Plenty Canada, two from the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, and three from the Bruce Trail Conservancy. The locations visited included Fisher’s Pond, Smokey Hollow, and a section of the Bruce Trail called Woodend Meadows, located near Niagara College.
By the end of the day it became clear which area best suited a Healing Garden. The southern Healing Garden is planned to be located along the Bruce Trail at Smokey Hollow in Waterdown. Our group greatly enjoyed the contours and surroundings of that space, relaxing to the wind blowing through the tall Indigenous grasses while picturing how the land looked and felt like an amphitheatre.
On the second day, the group of seven became eight as a member from Forests Ontario, Emily Hart, joined the contingent. The group travelled to Cape Chin and a meadowland called Vanishing Stream, located near Colpoy’s Bay. Upon assessment everyone in the group agreed that the northern Healing Garden location be that of Cape Chin, which includes a stunning outcrop view of nearly pristine shoreline along Georgian Bay. Not only is the location secluded from bustling city or suburban life, but visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the scenic view of crystal teal waters.
Our group became immediately impressed and in awe of our surroundings. It felt like we had been transported into a place we could all call home. There is the potential added bonus of a house on the property, which could provide support for local Indigenous partners and a space for further Indigenous programming for youth, but plans for the home have yet to be finalized by the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
Both Healing Gardens will help connect Ontario's northern and southern regions. The gardens will provide many programming opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth and provide inspirational spaces for all who visit. The process now turns toward assembling appropriate members from the participating organizations and identifying Indigenous advisors from each of the regions to provide cultural and curatorial guidance. Through this process conceptual content will be determined, Indigenous plants selected, designs considered and approved, and resources procured with installation to begin in 2023.
— Amanda Harwood