Medicine wheel garden planted at Falstaff Family Center to begin healing with local Indigenous community

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Local Indigenous residents and other community members gathered on the lawn of the Falstaff Family Center on Monday afternoon to bless and plant a Medicine Wheel Garden, around which traditional talking circles and other events and Aboriginal activities will be organized.

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Following the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, members of the Stratford-area Indigenous communities gathered on Monday for National Day indigenous peoples to plant and bless a medicine wheel garden to the Falstaff family. Center.

The garden, which represents the balance between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of life and how they connect to the natural world, marks the beginning of a new relationship between the local Indigenous community, the Multicultural Association from Perth Huron and the Falstaff family Center owner Loreena McKennitt.

“The Falstaff Family Center will be the new meeting place and the meeting place of the talking circle around this garden… and we will do everything here. Our sweat lodge arrives here. Our feast will come here. We’re going to have a mini powwow, hopefully around August. There is a lot of excitement and things to come, ”said Todd Torresan, a member of the Haudenosaunee of the Oneida Nation and organizer of a local traditional Aboriginal discussion circle with more than 100 members.

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Torresan, who is also known as Ditibaabid Animiki or Rolling Thunder, said the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children in Kamloops, and that other bodies have been found in residential schools across Canada since, made it clear that the Local indigenous peoples need a space to tell their stories, share their stories and embrace their cultures to enable healing and reconciliation with the wider community.

“Now it’s 535 and it counts,” Torresan said. “I have lost three members of my family who were in residential schools in BC and it really affects me. I thought it was over – my PTSD and all – and just talking about residential schools and coming back now with Indigenous Day, it’s the best time to bring it out and open it up, and bring everybody in in the front.

After trying to establish a regular talking circle and organize other Indigenous events elsewhere in town, Torresan said he was relieved to have contacted McKennitt and the founder of the multicultural association, Dr Gezaghn. Wordofa, both keen to provide the outdoor space and support needed to bring local indigenous communities together to celebrate their culture and history, and share their teachings with the wider community.

With McKennitt, Wordofa, Stratford Coun. Jo-Dee Burbach and other community members in attendance, Torresan performed a cleansing ceremony to cleanse those present and the ground itself before reading The Seven Teachings and blessing the Medicine Wheel Garden. Those who gathered for the ceremony then received a gift of dried tobacco, which they sprinkled over the garden before getting to work planting tobacco, sage and other traditional crops.

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Todd Torresan, also known as Ditibaabid Animiki or Rolling Thunder, cleans Stratford Coun.  Jo-Dee Burbach with searing sage, sweet grass and other herbs at a cleansing ceremony ahead of planting a medicine wheel garden at the Falstaff Family Center in Stratford on National Day Monday indigenous peoples.  Galen Simmons / The Beacon Herald / Postmedia Network
Todd Torresan, also known as Ditibaabid Animiki or Rolling Thunder, cleans Stratford Coun. Jo-Dee Burbach with searing sage, sweet grass and other herbs at a cleansing ceremony ahead of planting a medicine wheel garden at the Falstaff Family Center in Stratford on National Day Monday indigenous peoples. Galen Simmons / The Beacon Herald / Postmedia Network

“I am one of the thousands, if not millions of Canadians who are realizing a much greater awareness of the extent of what our history has been and of all that needs to be healed and repaired in one way or another. McKennitt said. “When you think about the process of truth and reconciliation and what reconciliation really means, it’s just a little, little stepping stone that I felt I could offer in my own part of the world.

“I think it’s really important to learn what really happened in the past and move forward in a very holistic way.”

Wordofa also stressed the importance of learning from local indigenous peoples and working with them and people of all cultures to create a more welcoming community for all.

“I am truly grateful that Todd and Loreena came together to create this garden,” Burbach added. “I think this is a very special day where we want to celebrate Indigenous cultures, as well as remember the history the settlers brought. So, I think this talking circle and the Medicine Wheel Garden is a perfect place for us to come together as First Nations people and settlers and start having conversations.

“It’s an important place to focus on healing and reconciliation. “

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