Tree of Life


For our action project, we planned, designed and planted a row of 7 cedars around our firepit area in the back field of our school. The cedars are of different varieties, including: Technito cedar, Degroot’s spire cedar, Babybear cedar and Skybound cedar. The purpose of planting these cedars was multidimensional. For one, it provides shelter from the school field which is often used for gym classes and other louder events. Our back field area is now quite expansive with its biodiversity as it includes a revitalized tall grass prairie, a permaculture based food forest, raised garden beds, and a greenhouse. With our fire pit area surrounded by a berm amidst the biodiversity, the land has become a place of gathering. While gathering around the fire, the noise is quite excessive so the cedars will help with this. Secondly, cedars provide one of the sacred medicines for our school. We have wild sage, tobacco and sweetgrass growing on the land but there are no cedars. Our school has a very active Indigenous student group called Bannock Island, so the cedars will provide teachings and medicines for our school community. Finally, the cedars provide teachings and experiences that will help shape our students of today and of the future. Learning the importance of caring for cedars, building a relationship with cedars, understanding Indigenous relations and sacredness of cedars, and the requirements of soil, water and nutrients for the cedars are all teachings necessary for our future. These cedars will also teach the students about time. Time moves and works differently depending on the entity of life. These cedars will be here for their children and grandchildren.


In planning these cedars, we learned about the importance of the circle. We used our learning of mathematics of radius, diameter, circumference and arc to design and create our path and place of planting for the cedars. We also included two entry/exits to enter the fire area. The students learned about spacing when planting so we can plan for when the cedars are in full growth.

In the early stages of our learning, we connected with Ben Linnick who is the Land Based Education Manager at the Aki Centre (operated by the Seven Oaks School Division). He provided our students and myself insights into the relationship, care and teachings around cedar. As cedar is a sacred medicine, it should not be sold. However, this is not the economic model our society is based on. Although we bought our cedars, we have a responsibility to them that is greater than just the financial investment of them.

Our project connects to climate change and sustainability as it exposes the students to teachings of how to plant trees and take care of trees. The trees act as a shade protector in the coming hotter days due to climate change. The trees present teachings connected to seven generations as this action goes beyond our time. As a result of our land projects already ongoing at H.C. Avery, we have noticed a change in the soil health and chemistry. Planting cedars and creating soil conditions favourable for them will continue to heal and repair our soil of which we all rely upon. Finally, when planting the cedars, we applied mycelium on the roots to help encourage root growth and connection with the nutrients and minerals around. Exploring the relationship plants have with fungi is crucial for sustainability and land based learning.

The students were wanting to take this on as they have spent considerable time planning and building the fire pit area. This goes back to last year’s class as well. With our fire pit area established, our class along with many others utilize the sharing space around the fire. The kids identified the challenges of listening and sharing in a space with lots of noise pollution. When learning about the sacred medicines, we knew that cedars were missing on the land that the school occupies, so this became our focus for the project.

This project is important for the community as lots of community members make use of the back field, including the fire pit area. Our school hosts a number of events, including a fall feast, a winter solstice and a June farmers market called Marigold Market. All of the people at these events will be able to appreciate and learn from the space that is now surrounded by the cedars. The cedars will provide a place to teach and learn about Giizhik, cedar, Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis, the Tree of Life.


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4. Quality Education
13. Climate Action
15. Life on Land
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