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Unity Garden amps up programming for Indigenous History Month

The Indigenous Unity Garden in Mel Swart Park is organizing various workshops through the month of June; 'It’s a way to really interact with our community and ask questions'

June marks National Indigenous History Month and the group behind the Indigenous Unity Garden in Mel Swart Park is celebrating.

“We want people to come in and learn a little bit more about us so they can understand about the deep-rooted beauty that our culture and traditions hold,” says Michele-Elise Burnett, in an interview with ThoroldToday

Burnett sits on the One Thorold Truth and Reconciliation Committee, and she is helping organize weekly workshops at the garden.

“It’s really been an incredible experience and heartwarming to see the amount of people that have been coming out every Saturday,” Burnett says.  “It grows every weekend. It’s a wide range of people coming out and discovering the garden.”

For the past few weeks, different plants and pollinators have been planted in the garden.

“We have planted all our sacred medicines: the tobacco, the sweetgrass and the cedar and the sage,” Burnett says. “This Saturday we’ll be planting the sunflowers. We’ll be doing a ceremony and honour the sunflower which is our fourth sister.”

To celebrate National Indigenous History Month there will several Indigenous artisans and vendors present at the garden to sell their wares. 

And on Saturday, June 10, Lacrosse expert Kevin Sandy is stopping by the garden to teach participants about the power of the game.

“Lacrosse is not only a sport but it is also medicine,” explains Burnett. “So people can learn more about the history and the medicine the game of lacrosse carries with our people.”

There will also be a drum workshop with Nicole Joy Frasier and a unity bracelet workshop.

“Any time we have any of these workshops you’re interactively creating and learning about Indigenous teachings, customs, traditions and culture,” Burnett says. “It’s a way to really interact with our community and ask questions.”

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About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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