Aboriginal healing garden unveiled at Alberta Children’s Hospital

“This is our corner as tribal peoples, but it’s also our corner to show others who we are and come together in spirit.”

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In the heat of Thursday’s afternoon sun, Indigenous elders and drummers welcomed the addition of a healing garden to the grounds of Alberta Children’s Hospital.

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A large medicine wheel – with the traditional four colors of black, white, yellow and red – features a garden bed in each section of the wheel. It is adorned with hand-painted and polished stones painted by children and hospital staff, and features the handprints of a number of children in the centre.

A backdrop of buffalo and three paintings by Elder Grant Little Mustache bring more vibrant colors to the room. It was built by FoodScape Calgary, an Indigenous-owned social enterprise offering edible and sustainable landscaping.

“This is where we can teach young children to heal the medicine wheel and help them, especially tribal children, to learn more about themselves,” said Georgina Bird, the tribal hospital liaison.

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“This is our corner as tribal peoples, but it’s also our corner to show others who we are and come together in spirit.”

She has worked at Children’s Hospital for about 12 years and said Thursday’s unveiling of the healing garden was a powerful moment. The project has been underway for a number of years, she said, and she’s been looking forward to it since planning began.

“But today I’m even more excited,” Bird said. “We can use this every day as a daily tool to ask ourselves how we’re feeling today, how am I doing?”

Dignitaries speak and prepare Thursday, July 28, 2022 at Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary during a planting ceremony of an Indigenous medicinal garden by Foodscape Calgary, an Indigenous-owned social enterprise that provides edible and sustainable landscaping on the grounds of Alberta Children's Hospital.
Dignitaries speak and prepare Thursday, July 28, 2022 at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary during a planting ceremony of an Indigenous medicinal garden by Foodscape Calgary, an Indigenous-owned social enterprise that provides edible and sustainable landscaping on the grounds of Alberta Children’s Hospital. Jim Wells/Post Media

Elders, those who helped build the facility and Alberta Health Service workers planted various plants in the garden as an Indigenous drum trio performed at Thursday’s ceremony. According to Bird, the plants, such as sage and sweet grass, were chosen for their importance to indigenous culture.

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Elder Marilyn Shingoose performed an incense ceremony in the garden’s censer and offered a prayer over the new installation.

FoodScape’s Heather Morigeau said it’s an honor to help create a place for Indigenous families to heal.

“This indigenous healing garden is for the families who come into Children’s Hospital who need access to cultural and spiritual healing,” Morigeau said.

The garden was made possible with support from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Natasha Tiemstra, executive director of Alberta Children’s Hospital, said the garden should be a place of gathering, peace and healing. She said it was a commitment to ongoing reconciliation work.

The first items will be planted Thursday, July 28, 2022 at Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary during an Indigenous Healing Garden ceremony by Foodscape Calgary, an Indigenous-led social enterprise providing edible and sustainable landscaping on the grounds of Alberta Children's Hospital.
The first items will be planted Thursday, July 28, 2022 at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary during an Indigenous Healing Garden ceremony by Foodscape Calgary, an Indigenous-led social enterprise providing edible and sustainable landscaping on the grounds of Alberta Children’s Hospital. Jim Wells/Post Media

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