Ajax Healing Garden honoured by David Suzuki Foundation


Published October 3, 2022 at 2:01 pm

An Indigenous Community and Healing Garden found on the west side of the Ajax-Pickering Hospital will receive a grant and plenty of support from the National Healing Forests Initiative and the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Ajax healing garden was one of 16 selected from 59 applications and will receive a small grant for upkeep, promotion and for hosting workshops on residential schools and on truth and reconciliation.

Healing Forests are green spaces dedicated to honouring residential school victims and survivors, their families and communities, and to promoting learning and reconciliation.

“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day to reflect, but it’s also a day to act,” said Patricia Stirbys, Saulteaux Cree from Saskatchewan (Cowessess First Nation), an Indigenous relations specialist and NHFI co-founder. “Every person needs to take up the challenge of reconciliation. That’s why we wanted to grow the Healing Forests network, to help people begin their journey towards understanding and healing.”

Since launching in 2015, the National Healing Forests Initiative’s network included 10 Healing Forests, which are quiet, natural spaces that provide an immersive educational experience, combining reconciliation and healing into one. This spring, the David Suzuki Foundation announced it would provide small grants to groups proposing new Healing Forests.

“The beautiful thing about Healing Forests is that they can be any size and location,” said Jode Roberts, Manager, Rewilding Communities, at the David Suzuki Foundation. “On the grounds of a school or church. On private or public land. Wild, rural or urban. What’s important is that they bring people together to learn about this country’s past, spend time in nature, and work towards reconciliation.”

“Reconciliation is a long journey, but it starts with each of us,” said NHFI co-founder Peter Croal. “Healing Forests can be a pathway to beginning that journey, literally. We look forward to seeing the Healing Forests flourish and to expanding the network even more next year.”

As Jode Roberts, the manager of Rewilding Communities describe it, spending time in nature has always been good for your health. “Now, it can also be a deliberate act of reconciliation.”

The organizations receiving funding in 2022 to support establishing Healing Forests are:

  • Ajax Pickering Hospital Healing Garden, Ajax, Ont.
  • Birch Path Healing Forest, Gloucester, Ont.
  • Central Manitoulin Public School Wellness Orchard, Mindemoya, Ont.
  • Cheam Healing Forest Trail, Rosedale, B.C.
  • Eagle Lake Farabout Peninsula Healing Forest, Eagle Lake, N.W. Ont.
  • The Friendship Trail Healing Forest, St Adolphe, Man.
  • ila’latl Healing Forest, Whycocomagh, N.S.
  • īnimin sīpīsis – Blueberry Creek Healing Forest, Leslieville, Alta.
  • Kinoo wiiyaa minoyaa Healing Forest, M’Chigeeng, Ont
  • Navan Healing Forest, Ottawa, Ont.
  • Silver Tip to Wedzin Bin Trail Project, Gidimt’en Checkpoint, B.C.
  • st’elmixw salnachiya Healing Forest, Sechelt, B.C.
  • Trail of Song Healing Forest, Lumby, B.C.
  • ts’ukw’um Healing Forest, Sechelt, B.C.
  • Waupoos Healing Forest, Prince Edward County, Ont.
  • Westminster United Church Healing Garden, Regina, Sask.
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