Indigenous Community Garden and Outdoor Learning Space
To create and establish an Indigenous community garden and outdoor learning space in the backyard of our school. The learning space is made for students centered around the medicine wheel and the four directions teachings. Being able to take our learning outside is of utmost importance especially in light of Covid and previously learning online. Bringing students together again, outside, is just what our inner city school needs. Centering our learning from an Indigenous lens and providing the opportunity to connect and reflect in nature is crucial and provides a much needed sense of community and belonging.
The Stewards Club in addition to Catholic Central’s grade 11 Indigenous Studies students worked together to create an Indigenous community garden and outdoor learning space in the backyard of our school. Students first learned about the sacred medicines of the Ojibwe (the Indigenous People closest in proximity to our area, which include tobacco, sweet grass, sage and cedar). Many of the teachings revolved around the connection to the Earth and reciprocal relationships. Our efforts are to reestablish species native to our land and do our best to return Mother Earth to her natural state. In this way, we can honour the land, and develop an appreciation for nature. Next, students worked directly with our Green Industries classmates to establish an outdoor garden space. They prepped the area with soil and barriers to keep it protected. Then, they transplanted a a variety of plant species directly related to their Indigenous teachings like Marigold, Cedar, Sage, Sweet Grass and Impatiens. Students painted the colours of the medicine wheel around the existing garden frame in the backyard of our school.
They designed the garden in a way to respect and honour the medicine wheel.
Reflection & Celebration
Our board’s Indigenous-lead led us in a garden commemoration and smudging which involved the practice of burning medicinal plants to cleanse ourselves and connect us with our spirit and Creator. Students then completed a follow-up reflection on their gardening experience, smudging and connection to Indigenous studies.