Hello all! I hope all your fall transitions and new routines are going smoothly now that we are well into October.
This post is to let you know about a Love My Hood matching grant recently received for Expanding Our Relations: Indigenous Placemaking in the Park.
Since the project is just getting underway this is a good time to learn more by reading about it here and responding with your questions in the comments below. It’s also the perfect time to indicate whether you would like to get involved in some way.
If you want to jump right to the details of how to get involved, go here. Otherwise, keep reading!
Who is involved?
The grant was received by Wisahkotewinowak and a group of Mount Hope neighbours who live near or adjacent to the park.
Wisahkotewinowak is an urban Indigenous garden collective building Land-based relationships across the Grand River Territory. They are a group of Indigenous (First Nation and Métis) Peoples and settler-allies who also wear many hats as gardeners, researchers/academics, teachers/educators, students and life-long learners.
Wisahkotewinowak will coordinate Indigenous engagement and relationship with the land and community building opportunities.
Mount Hope neighbours involved in the grant process include Kim, Alexis, Trevor, Sarah, Emily and Juanita. Mount Hope & Park neighbours will coordinate neighbourhood engagement and volunteer involvement in Wisahkotewinowak’s gardening activities such as planting, watering, weeding at the park. Neighbours will also help facilitate relationship building between neighbours and the land, and neighbours and the wider Indigenous community.
Who else is involved & how?
- White Owl Native Ancestry Association (WONAA) – lending gardening supplies and facilitating community connections to Indigenous artists and hiring an Indigenous person to facilitate engagement activities.
- Wildlife Gardening – donation of seedlings and consultation services
- Guelph Street Community Garden – donation to the project and collaboration on the planting and art projects
- Mount Hope Breithaupt Neighbourhood Association (MHBNA) – donation to the project and community engagement by promoting through their FB page and website
How did this connection come about?
Wisahkotewinowak & the neighbours first met in 2019 when Sarah Anderson made the connection between neighbourhood discussions about the renaming of Uniroyal Goodrich Park – way back in May 2019 – and the land-based initiatives of the garden collective.
The groups first met for conversations about the land, the history of the land, the park, the gardens and everything in between. There were plans for a maple syrup celebration and potluck in March 2020, which were shelved due COVID-19 public health measures. However the group has continued to meet and explore ideas for working together.
What is the project?
The project has three components:
Planting – Plant Indigenous and/or food trees, shrubs and perennials in Uniroyal Goodrich Park and land in the area of the adjacent stormwater management pond and remove invasive species in the same areas.
Art – Work with Indigenous artists to bring art to the park. Possible art forms include murals, rock art, sculpture and/or murals on new picnic tables, benches or the existing structure in the park.
Relations – Relations building is core to this project. We want to continue this work in a good way. The group hopes to facilitate relationship building between settler-allies who are neighbours of the park and Indigenous peoples living and working in and around Kitchener. We all have a responsibility for relationship building and will work to facilitate this between the Land and Indigenous peoples and park neighbours. This could happen through activities in the park such as tea & bannock meet-ups, processing traditional foods, story sharing, gardening, ceremony, potlucks, etc.
What values are guiding this project?
From the very beginning, the work of the group has been rooted in & committed to relationship-expanding, collaboration, relationship-based learning, centering Indigenous perspectives, explorations of reconciliation and decolonization and Land-based connections.
Where will the project happen?
The project activities will take place in the park that we have known for many years as Uniroyal Goodrich Park. Some activities will also happen around the stormwater pond area at the end of Ferdinand Ave. Both are located along the Spurline Trail between Guelph Street and Roger Street.
See the image below for *possible* art installation and planting sites.
When will this happen?
Timelines are a bit fluid at the moment, but here are a few things that could happen this fall & winter:
- Call out for Indigenous artists
- Begin the process of selecting artists
More activities will happen in Spring 2022, such as:
- planting of shrubs and perennials
- developing a care plan for watering & weeding
- possibly removal of invasive plants
- helping to host gatherings in the park
Why is this project important?
This project is part of a larger reconciliation process happening across Turtle Island. In 2021 and 2022 we will plant native fruit trees, shrubs and perennials to expand opportunities for growing and harvesting traditional foods in this park and pond area, and to heal the land through ecological restoration. We will bring Indigenous art to the park. We will facilitate further opportunities for relationship building between Indigenous peoples and park neighbours, and also, just as importantly, between the land and Indigenous peoples and park neighbours (while adhering to Covid-19 restrictions).
By doing all of this, we will increase the physical public spaces in Kitchener in which Indigenous peoples feel safe and represented, and we will bring more life to the park.
How can I get involved?
Want to stay in touch with this project? Want to get involved when opportunities come up? Want to join in the coordination activities?
To be added to a list of Mount Hope, Breithaupt and other local volunteers working on the project, please email MHB.Expanding.Relations@gmail.com. You will be added to a Google Group list of individuals and families actively involved in the project or who have a genuine interest in how the project is going.
If you have a sense of how you would like to be involved, please include that in the message too.
These are some of the ways that neighbours could be involved.
- digging holes, planting trees, shrubs & perennials
- weeding, watering newly planted trees
- invasive species monitoring
- Reviewing artist submission
- Helping to install the art
- Supporting artists
- Coordinating neighbours to be involved in various project tasks
- Updating chalkboards with messages about the project & when there are opportunities to be involved
- Invite & promote neighbours to join activities and events related to the project by distributing flyers, writing blog posts, sharing to neighbourhood online groups.
You’ve reached the end of the blog post! Thank you for reading and we look forward to working together on this project!