September 30, 2023, marks the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, an important day for our Indigenous partners, locally and across the country. It also serves as a day of reflection, so that people can recognize the harmful legacy of the residential school system in Canada and collectively make the journey towards healing.
As an organization dedicated to the health and protection of land and water resources, South Nation Conservation (SNC) has a deep respect and appreciation for the history, diversity, and knowledge of our First Nation partners. Working together, we have undertaken many successful, impactful projects that would not have been possible without our partners and the Traditional Knowledge that they’ve shared.
Some of the very first partner projects included a Black Ash Management Project and a Medicinal Plant Project. During this time, a working group was formed to ensure close collaboration with partners on the ground within shared territories. The Eastern Ontario First Nations Working Group (EOFNWG), a non-political group, now works together to join efforts on issues that affect all of us, including the sustainable management of public forests and conservation lands. Over the years the group has tracked species at risk, invasive species, biodiversity and biodiversity offsets, carried out restoration projects and offered advice.
The Healing Place, a community green space created in 2020 by the EOFNWG and SNC, located on the traditional territories of the Algonquin and Mohawk Nations in Eastern Ontario, represents an important step forward in the journey towards reconciliation. The Healing Place is centered around creating and maintaining a safe, physical space of healing to help restore land, language, and relationships with community members from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds.
A Three Sisters Garden was planted last year at the site in Shanly, Ontario, in collaboration with local schools. Partners welcomed the opportunity to connect with youth to share traditional knowledge through an initiative which also supports First Nation food sovereignty. SNC’s Board of Directors also approved a partnership in 2022 to support the construction of the Miitig Teaching Lodge on another SNC property in Maxville, Ontario. The construction of the Aboriginal Lodge House and Sweat Lodge was completed in 2023 and now facilitates cultural ceremonies, teachings, and storytelling.
On October 4th, 2023, the Partners are gathering at “The Healing Place | Tsi Tehshakotitsénhtha | Endajimino-pimaadizi | Lieu de guérison” for a Thanksgiving Harvest. Partners will be collecting the remaining produce and seeds, and preparing the garden beds for winter, along with sharing stories to celebrate First Nation’s culture. To join the celebration at the Healing Place, register here: https://bit.ly/AThanksgivingHarvest