The garden opening began with a land acknowledgment by members of the school’s Reconciliation Club followed by a smudging ceremony performed by Phil Coté, Indigenous artist, and Kim Wheatley, former Woodlands student and Anishinaabe cultural interpreter.
Before building the garden, students from the Reconciliation Club spent a great amount of time learning from Wheatley and Coté. Wheatley, who was a student at The Woodlands in 1970s, taught them the importance of learning Indigenous culture and challenges. Students were guided by Coté, who through the form of art, helped them put the vision of their garden into reality. The Reconciliation Club presented Wheatley and Coté with bricks inscribed with their names as a symbol of their newfound friendship. Names of faculty members as well as those who participated and committed to the garden are also displayed on each brick that outlines the garden.
The circular garden which represents unity and inclusion is split into four quadrants, which symbolizes the Anishinaabe interpretation of the medicine wheel. In the centre of the wheel, staff and students have painted a collection of rocks with different symbols including the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 calls to action and medicine wheels.
See a clip from the ceremony here: https://youtu.be/MOXTO3QeC7s