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Laurier celebrates opening of Aboriginal community garden
Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus celebrated the official opening of the Mino-kummik community garden June 21, on National Aboriginal Day. Many people enjoyed beautiful summer weather, drumming and dancing as they partook in the opening ceremony of the garden, located at the Aboriginal Student Centre at 187 Albert St.
Peter Braid, MP for Kitchener-Waterloo, brought greetings on behalf of the Government of Canada. “I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate National Aboriginal Day than to be here with you,” he said. “This garden will be an important vehicle for the celebration and understanding of traditional Aboriginal culture, medicine and knowledge.”
Mino-kummik means “the good bountiful earth” in Ojibway, and the garden features a landscaped seating area, a fire pit, a fruit and vegetable garden and an Aboriginal medicine garden.
The garden will be used to grow medicines for smudging ceremonies and vegetables for the Aboriginal Student Centre’s soup and fry bread Tuesdays. REEP Green Solutions’ RAIN program will also use the garden to demonstrate two simple ways to manage stormwater on properties to protect local rivers, which includes a 2,350-litre rain-water harvesting cistern and a rain and butterfly garden that uses water that would otherwise erode soil and flow into storm sewers. Laurier’s Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Social Work will integrate the garden into their curricula.
“I hope we’ll all see this area as an important part of Laurier, and a place to come to reflect and learn, and also a place to get some good herbs for soup,” said Laurier’s Vice-President: Academic Deb MacLatchy.
The garden was made possible by a large donation from Laurier’s student life levy, and was created through a partnership between Laurier’s Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, Sustainability Office, Physical Resources, and REEP Green Solutions, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable living.
Any university group or class can book the space, which will showcase Aboriginal culture with activities such as elder teachings, sunrise ceremonies, drum birthings and circle teachings.
“I want to acknowledge the reason we’re doing anything – this is true for all of Laurier – the only reason for our existence is our students. That’s why we’re here. They are our future and they’re also our present,” said Senior Advisor: Aboriginal Initiatives Jean Becker.