The Evolution of the WUC Greenspace Project to a Healing Garden
It’s been quite a journey! What began as a conversation on how best to improve the WUC area at the corner of 13th Avenue and Cameron Street has evolved into a plan to develop a community healing forest/garden space.
What is a healing forest/garden? In researching ideas for the redevelopment of our yard, we learned of the National Healing Forest Initiative (https://www.nationalhealingforests.com). The initiative asks you to consider developing a healing forest in your community – a dedicated forest, garden or green space – as a place for healing, learning, sharing, and reflection about Canada’s history and the legacy of Indian residential schools. Anyone who has walked in a forest or a park setting will feel better. Connecting to nature is important for our well-being. Forests and nature can heal and create calm in our busy, lives. It would provide a space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to come together in the spirit of reconciliation to heal, reflect, meditate, talk, share, and build respect and understanding. The healing garden would be an excellent use of our green space. God calls us to be a place of healing and reconciliation.
Funding for the Healing Garden is through grants, personal donations, and the Online Auction fundraiser. To date, we have received grants from Cathedral Area Community Association micro-grant, the David Suzuki Foundation (National Healing Forest Initiative), and the UCC Justice and Reconciliation Fund.
A concept drawing developed with the guidance of Elder Lorna Standingready is being developed to share with the congregation. The space will include natural walking path(s), several sitting areas; natural grasses; medicinal and sacred plants with identification plaques in English and Cree; a gathering space for ceremony, reflection, meditation, and prayer; and a reconciliation mural on the church wall that borders the area.
There will also be a learning component added for the WUC community, local residents and businesses to learn about Indigenous culture, the church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.