One crucial way Indigenous peoples have always maintained a meaningful connection with the land is by understanding how to respect all other life on it while sustaining themselves and their communities. As knowledge keepers, Indigenous women in particular have held a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding plant life—how to find, harvest, process and preserve them, and to use them for medicinal purposes. The goal of this project is to harness and pass on that traditional knowledge to Indigenous women, girls, gender-diverse and Two-Spirit people across Indigenous communities in Canada in order to enable them to be self-sufficient and food-secure.
NWAC is in the process of creating a rooftop garden on its new building to incorporate the recommendations made by Indigenous women and Elders to address food insecurity and pass on Indigenous culture and teachings.
Designed under the guidance of Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers, the rooftop garden will be transformed into a place of healing, reconciliation and Indigenous culture. The garden will feature walkways and seating areas among local plants, traditional agriculture and traditional medicines, with designs reflecting Indigenous environmental stewardship and re-connection to nature.
As a space of healing, the rooftop garden will feature traditional medicines and a commemoration to Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. The commemoration will be designed by Indigenous women, non-binary, and Two-Spirit artists and Elders, celebrating the lives of MMIWG and honouring their memories. The commemoration will be a place of honouring and remembrance, offering a peaceful healing space for survivors and families of MMIWG.
The garden will use traditional growing methods and local plants, and NWAC will host ceremonies, teachings, and a series of training workshops designed by an Indigenous Elder to teach traditional agriculture methods to Indigenous women, girls and their families.
In its additional workshop space in the building, including an industrial sized kitchen, NWAC will host workshops to build off this knowledge, which could include topics such as growing, harvesting, canning/ preserving, cooking or how to make baby food. These workshops will infuse storytelling, tradition, history, culture and education for sustainability so participants can take the information with them to their communities.
Additional herbs and traditional foods will be grown in a year-round winterized greenhouse. The greenhouse will ensure a supply of medicines, herbs, fruits and vegetables throughout the winter months for continuous programs and resources throughout the year.