We are inviting all community members to join us for a Sacred Fire to grieve the loss of the gardens from Tuesday, June 11th at 8:30 am – Saturday, June 15th at 8:30 am
We are also inviting community members to help us re-plant the garden on Sun, June 16th at 2:30 pm
Urban gardens have taken root across Toronto this summer. Sadly, on Thursday June 6, the plants of the Humber River Three Sisters Garden had their roots torn out of the ground by City of Toronto workers.
Community members working with Ojibiikaan’s 2-Spirit Families Circle planted ancestral Seneca Onëö’ö:weh (corn) as part of the “Three Sisters” garden, as well as ceremonial sema and sage. A post on Urban Indigenous Toronto Facebook group by Gillian Kyle alerted us that workers were tearing apart our garden that was growing in Etienne Brulé Park. Her post stated, “Currently the City of Toronto is getting rid of the three sisters by the Humber River. I tried to have a conversation but I got hit with the ‘these are just my orders’ speech. My heart is really heavy. Is anyone willing to mobilize or come lay down tobacco or sing for them because this is Indigenous land the last time I checked.”
This part of the Humber River was once the site of a Seneca village where acres of corn would have been grown. We chose to plant the Three Sisters Garden along the river as an expression of the collective and inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to access our traditional lands to practice our ceremonies and for cultural preservation. Garden Coordinator Joce Tremblay shares, “The Seed Keeper who gifted me these enchanting opalescent-orange kernels at the Tyendinaga seed exchange has been preserving this relative at Kanawake. When I shared that I carried a vision of the Sisters growing on the Humber River again, he relayed, “that’s where she comes from.” He was deeply moved that we would be bringing her back home.”
Ojibiikaan means “root” in Anishinaabemowin. Ojibiikaan delivers programs to strengthen the roots that connect Indigenous families to the land and each other. Ojibiikaan’s land-based EarlyON program, Ojiibikens (little root), is funded by the Journey Together Funding from the City of Toronto. The “Journey Together Needs Assessment: Expanding Indigenous-led Early Years Programs in Toronto” conducted by the City of Toronto states that there is a need for “families and children want more opportunities to get out on the land to grow food, to perform ceremonies, and to learn about Indigenous culture and history through land-based programs.”
The City of Toronto is part of the Two Row Wampum and Dish With One Spoon treaties and recently adopted the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. The City of Toronto has also made commitments to reconciliation such as “The City commits, when working with the Aboriginal communities in Toronto, to learning about the elements of an Aboriginal holistic approach from its Aboriginal partners. The City further commits to supporting this approach in the belief that this will provide the greatest benefit to the community being served.” Indigenous communities and organizations have loudly spoken, and they need access to land to conduct ceremony, grow ancestral seeds and heal from the land.
Ojibiikaan plans to replant our garden, and to work with the city to ensure it is sustained and respected. We also want Indigenous people and families to feel safe and supported in reclaiming their traditions and ceremonies on the land. Support is welcome!
- We are inviting all community members to join us for a Sacred Fire to grieve the loss of the gardens from Tuesday, June 11th at 8:30 am – Saturday, June 15th at 8:30 am
- We are also inviting community members to help us re-plant the garden on Sun, June 16th at 2:30 pm