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Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan/Healing Garden

Ode'min Giizas Garden w painting May 20, 2022.jpg

Moon Gardens, Conversation Circle, Pathway, and Ode'min Giizas/Strawberry Moon panel. Photo by Marcelle St. Amant.

By stewarding the small greenspace adjacent to St. Matt’s differently, the Indigenouse People's Solidarity Group (IPSG) and Garden Crew volunteers seek to model how even small urban spaces may become sites of re-connection with Creation and respect for Indigenous spirituality.


“Our ways, of seeing and being on this earth, are much like the Hebrew people,” teach the Caretakers of our Indigenous Circle in their 2018 Calls to the United Church of Canada. “We can hear creation and have learned from all our relations, the animals, the water folk, the plant families, our mother the earth.”


Gifted the name Noojimo’iwein Gitigaan/Healing Garden by Elder Peduhbun Migizi Kwe at our Fall Equinox Ceremony in 2020, the green space is Toronto’s first National Healing Forests project, “a place for healing, learning, sharing, and reflection about Canada’s history and the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.”


We are grateful to our 2022 Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan weekly program partners, the Hippo Nursery School and The Stop Wychwood Open Door, both part of St. Matthew’s Community Hub. Special thanks to Anishnawbe Health Toronto, Miinikaan Innovation & Design, Friends of Bickford Park, and the Community History Project at Tollkeeper’s Park for their collaboration with us on new National Healing Forests projects in Toronto’s west end.


Generous funding from Park People, the Parkdale and Toronto Horticultural Societies, Canada Summer Jobs, and private donations plus the guidance of Elder Peduhbun Migizi Kwe/Catherine Brooks and the committed work of volunteers made the 2022 season possible.


If you wish to volunteer in Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan, contact Robin Buyers. Or watch for updates on Facebook.

For more about the garden, see the Garden Journal.

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Members of the Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan Crew, the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group, the Hippo Nursery School, the St. Matt’s Board, and the Administration and Building Maintenance staff gathered over a potluck lunch last Friday to say goodbye to our amazing Canada Summer Jobs workers, Abby Grasham Burns and Jacob ElzingaCheng. Outstanding ambassadors for our Healing Garden and the National Healing Forests initiative, Abby and Jacob

  • Designed and facilitated easy-to-engage activities for children and families passing by the Rushton Road corner throughout Pollinator Week in June and Salsa on St. Clair in July

  • Created Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan activities for Hippo Nursery School Daycampers, including opportunities for children to learn about growing food, caring for water, and appreciating the diversity of plants and insects in the garden

  • Prepared takeaway and Pow Wow foods with The Stop Wychwood Open Door and Na-Me-Res

  • Supported First Nations and other Ode’min Giizas Ceremony, Grassy Narrows River Run, and Plants Are Medicines National Healing Forests West Toronto Launch collaborators as requested

  • Worked with volunteers to maintain and improve the garden.

  • Supported IPSG and other events, including the Ode’min Giizas Ceremony in June, Grassy Narrows River Run in July, and Plants Are Medicines National Healing Forests West Toronto Launch in August.

Abby will soon be off to Peterborough to begin her second year at Trent. Jacob returns to Western Technical School, ready to take on Grade 12 STEM classes. Abby may be adding more Indigenous Studies courses to her History major; Jacob is “inspired to continue in [his] journey of Right Relations.” We offer them our greatest-possible thanks, but also say “Baamapi:” “See you soon.”

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