Truth and Reconciliation Garden
Our students wanted to design our school’s courtyard, because they all noticed that there was nothing there. We had been learning about climate change and sustainability through an Indigenous lens before starting the LSF Youth Forum. We have a lot of needs at our school, as well as a lot of Indigenous students, so the combination of climate change, sustainability, and Indigenous knowledge stuck. As a class (2 sections), we came up with the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Garden that would give back to the school, teach life skills around growing food and other plants, and would increase awareness about Indigenous ways of being.
The students started by coming up with designs that could be used in the future, if the project were to expand over the years. They then had to narrow down and design something that could be done this year. We came up with the idea of 3 planters… 3 letters to represent our school (RMS)… 3 big ideas (Indigenous plants, flowers, and food)… It worked out perfectly. We had a parent donate most of the wood to build the planters (recycled from his old fence pannel – another aspect of sustainability that we were able to discuss). We mapped out what we wanted the planters to look like, measured and cut our materials, put them together, and painted our main colour. The students also researched different types of Indigenous plants that might grow well in the Okanagan for the first planter, flowers for the second planter, and various foods for the third. The students still have plans to paint designs on the sides of the planters that reflect what is in it (Indigenous designs, flowers, and food). We also ordered a bench that is made from recycled plastic that can be placed near our planters for people to enjoy.
Reflection & Celebration
The students were able to design a space, think through how it could be started, work with their hands to get ready to build, paint and plant seeds/transfer plants. I loved being able to do the whole project through an Indigenous lens. When the students came up with the idea, I was thrilled. They worked hard to meet the deadline, even after a couple of hiccups, and worked together to work hard towards Truth & Reconciliation, while providing food for some people who need it at the school, and “beautifying” our courtyard.