During National Indigenous History Month (June), Lawrence Park Community Church celebrated the opening of a new native plant garden - a small step on our journey towards Reconciliation.
We named the garden Miigwetch, the word for “thank you” in one of the many Indigenous languages long spoken in the place we call Toronto. The word Miigwetch, from Anishinaabemowin (also known as the Ojibwa language), will remind us to think with gratitude of all those who have stewarded this land, and of our own responsibility to care for it.
We began work on the garden in November by covering the existing lawn with cardboard to let the grass decompose over the winter and then heaping on fallen leaves to add organic matter.
Our next goal was to learn about plants indigenous to southern Ontario, those growing here before settlers arrived. These species have co-evolved with the pollinators and other wildlife in the community and are uniquely adapted to fill their role in the local ecosystem.
We were able to source many native species from the North American Native Plant Society spring sale, thanks to a grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, facilitated by Faith & the Common Good. After adding soil and mulch generously donated by Scotts Canada, we were ready to plant.
The congregation was delighted when Leo Atlookan, a member of the Eabametoong First Nation, kindly agreed to perform an honour song and smudging ceremony at the opening of the fledgling Miigwetch garden. Leo, whose given First Nations name is Stands Alone Strong, talks about the inspiration for his dancing and drawing here.
While the smudging had to be postponed when Leo was called away, the congregation turned out after Sunday service to celebrate the garden with enthusiasm. Representatives from TD joined us, as did Donna Lang of Faith & the Common Good.
We thank everyone involved in the creation of this garden, from Faith & the Common Good and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to Scotts Canada.
And we extend our heart-felt gratitude to the Indigenous peoples who have cared for this land for countless generations.
Thank you. Miigwetch.