The Ted Rogers School of Management has launched a project to transform the school’s almost 12,000 sq. ft. courtyard into an Indigenous healing garden, and we are inviting members of the Ryerson community to join us at virtual consultations, external link, opens in new window for this initiative.
Ryerson, like many other universities across Canada, is experiencing growing concerns around the mental wellness of our students. Even prior to the pandemic, reports of anxiety and other student wellness concerns were increasing exponentially. Now more than ever, we need spaces like these for the community to unwind and reconnect with the land that gives us life.
Indigenous Peoples have always known that plants are our helpers, and offer powerful medicines that improve physical, mental and spiritual health. In response to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the Ted Rogers School is aiming to create an Indigenous healing garden in the outdoor courtyard of the school to help Indigenous students and staff to feel at home on campus and to educate the entire Ryerson community about aspects of Indigenous culture, while also addressing many of the health and wellness issues currently faced by students.
Currently, the school’s 7th floor courtyard is home to the Ted Rogers Urban Garden – a micro food-security garden that grows a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit that are then donated to meal programs in our community. The garden (pictured above) is tended to by a dedicated team of student, staff and faculty volunteers, led by Jessica Griffiths, Coordinator, Student & Community Engagement. Since launching in 2017, the Ted Rogers Urban Garden has grown from eight self-watering planters to over 300 sq. ft. of garden bed space, with over 70 lbs of produce being donated last year alone. It will act as a catalyst for the new Indigenous healing garden that is planned.
We have assembled a community-based interdisciplinary team to lead the planning of this new green-roof garden. The goal is to transform a predominantly paved courtyard into a welcoming green space for healing that honours Indigenous peoples.
Research and Education
The first phase of this project was a Knowledge Keepers Speaker Series that was held in summer 2020. The series included seven webinars which aimed to establish partnerships with internal and external Indigenous communities, in line with TRC’s Call to Action 92. It also served as a way to invite people who might be interested in the consulting phase of this project.
The seven webinars had approximately 600 attendees altogether. All of the videos for this series are posted on our website.
Stakeholder Meeting and Advisory Circle
In fall 2020, meetings were held with the stakeholders at the Ted Rogers School who would directly be impacted by what happens in the courtyard space, which helped the project team to understand important considerations.
An Indigenous Advisory Circle was also created to ensure the team was adhering to the proper protocols and principles throughout the development of the project. Joanne Dallaire, Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor – Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation at Ryerson University, is part of this Circle. The initial meeting with members of the advisory group was held in December 2020, and nine more meetings are planned throughout this year.
With enough primary information garnered from their meetings with stakeholders and the Indigenous Advisory Circle, the team is now ready to move forward with the community consultation phase of this project.
To ensure that the Indigenous healing garden is approved by the community and that there is a consensus on what the individuals who will be using the space want, the Ted Rogers School will be holding three consulting workshops that will be open to the Ryerson community:
- Monday, March 22, 2021 (1-4pm): With Indigenous community members
- Wednesday, March 24, 2021 (9am-12pm): With non-Indigenous community members
- Friday, March 26, 2021 (9am-12pm): With both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members
Please register to join the conversation and share your insights, external link, opens in new window. Registration will be capped at 30 participants per workshop and a Wait List will be started after that.
For more information on these workshops or the Indigenous healing garden project, please contact Aqsa Maryam at firstname.lastname@example.org.