One of the new Gardens at The Leaf, the Indigenous Peoples Garden will be a gathering place that celebrates Indigenous cultures and their deep philosophical understanding and respect for nature. The garden’s design was created through a collaborative process involving Indigenous elders, designers, and community leaders. Out of this process, a vision emerged for a naturalized garden inspired by the beauty of the Manitoba landscape.
With every step, there is something new to discover in the Indigenous Peoples Garden. Each detail comes from a vision inspired by Elders and community members who came together to create this unique outdoor space at The Leaf – Canada’s Diversity Gardens.
“Because we’re talking about the land and we’re talking about how we come together as people and looking at a First Nation perspective, we had a common sense of responsibility,” explained David Thomas, who has been a consultant on the project since 2016, working with project landscape architect HTFC Planning and Design on both the process and the design of the garden itself.
“To represent our communities we thought about places where families would come together, spaces where people would be able to just sit quietly and kind of meditate but also performance places, places to sit and laugh around a fire and just greet each other, and places for storytelling.”
Cues for traditional stories are woven throughout the garden.
“There are so many teachings and so many versions of stories so we just tried to give little hints at things and hopefully people can come here and tell their own stories,” says Mamie Griffith. Mamie is both an Indigenous consultant and designer on the garden.
Careful thought is behind so many details. From the carvings to construction. Dozens of Indigenous youth were invited for a series of days to have a direct hand in the project.
“They helped build all the boardwalks, they planted a lot of the trees and it was so fun,” said Mamie. “The youth were amazing. It was beautiful. It’s sort of like how you hope the space will be activated and getting to see it like that.”
As visitors explore the Indigenous Peoples Garden, David hopes it will be a place to learn, connect and celebrate. “See through the racism and stereotypes and just come together and value Indigenous people, value their lives; Indigenous women the youth and our history.”