Celebrated in May and June, Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams invites individuals and organizations to join in reconciliation by planting heart gardens in their communities. Heart gardens honour residential school survivors and their families, as well as the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Each heart represents the memory of a child lost to the residential school system, and the act of planting represents that individual’s commitment to finding their place in reconciliation. In 2017, more than 4500 hearts were planted in gardens across Canada.
Hearts can be made by anyone of all ages and backgrounds. Heart gardens can be indoors or outdoors; they can be made of decorated paper hearts or include real flowers and medicines. What’s important is to be creative, and speak from the heart. Before getting your hands dirty, take the opportunity to learn together with your students or community group about the history of residential schools and their ongoing impacts. The following websites offer good starting points:
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Project of Heart - Resources
- Shannen's Dream - Resources for Educators
- KAIROS Winds of Change and Blanket Exercise
Should your heart garden be permanent?
In addition to planting hearts in a garden, you may want to consult with a local Elder if you would like to plant sacred medicines in the garden to create a living memorial for residential school students and your community’s shared commitment to reconciliation. Examples of sacred medicines include: tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass. If you decide to plant sacred medicines, be sure to ask the Elder(s) how to care for the plants so that they can grow up to be healthy and proud over the years.
The inaugural Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams event took place at Rideau Hall as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s closing ceremonies on June 3, 2015. In support of the main event, individuals and organizations across Canada planted more than 6,000 hearts in over 80 heart gardens. For more information on Honouring Memories Planting Dreams read here.
Below you will find instructions on how to create a heart garden, including a template. Don't forget to register your heart garden to show how Canadians are acknowledging our shared histories and celebrating our collective commitment to reconciliation.
#TRCHeartGardens across Canada
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