By Jill Klaehn, John Ryerson and Sandy Giles Byrne
Fairlawn Avenue United Church located in North Toronto is an Affirming congregation that is committed to social justice. As part of our journey towards Truth and Reconciliation, we were looking for a way to honour our Indigenous People’s sacred relationship with the land.
There are five gardens at Fairlawn which had been lovingly cared for by three amazing volunteers over the years. Through Covid, the gardens fell into disrepair with invasive weeds becoming the prominent display. However, thanks to a grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF) through Faith & the Common Good., we have begun to revitalize the existing gardens and dedicate the most prominent garden at the front of the church to a Truth and Reconciliation Remembrance Garden featuring indigenous plants that are predominantly orange in colour.
With a small but mighty party of volunteers, we tackled the weeds with garden forks, shovels, trowels and a lot of getting in touch with the earth (quite literally!!!!) A generous supply of Scott’s Nature’s Care Organic Raised Bed Soil and Nature Scapes mulch were added.
Thanks to Ontario Native Plants and Canada Post, the plants arrived! We now have Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm, and Smooth Oxeye, with the orange flowers of the Truth and Reconciliation Remembrance Garden being Michigan Lily, Butterfly Milkweed, and Wild Columbine.
With additional plant donations from community of faith members, we’ve started to revitalize our other four gardens as well. Our goal to create a sustainable garden that will support pollinators, model the value of indigenous plants, and remind our community of the impact of residential schools.
“The future doesn't. The only thing that exists is now and our memory of what happened in the past. But because we invented the idea of a future, we're the only animal that realized we can affect the future by what we do today.”