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Ceremony marks creation of Indigenous Garden at NWCC Terrace Campus

A soil turning ceremony this week at Northwest Community College (NWCC) Terrace Campus marked the creation of an Indigenous Garden that will showcase local plants and flora with symbolic meanings for the College community including staff, students and the region's Aboriginal people. "These gardens are a celebration of the richness and abundance in our region as well as a celebration of the ways people traditionally lived and prospered for many generations," explained NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth. "The gardens are a symbol of respect for First Nations culture." The indigenous gardens at the NWCC Terrace Campus are being developed around the College's All Nations Education Pole and will consist of four distinct areas: a food garden, a science and technology garden consisting of plants traditionally used for medicine and architecture, a story garden inspired by local Aboriginal tales, and a mostly evergreen garden that will highlight and surround the All Nations Education Pole. A range of traditional and local plants such as red elderberries, high bush cranberries, hazelnut trees, woolly sunflowers, rice root, wild ginger and oval-leafed blueberries will be cultivated in the gardens, which are bordered by grass. The garden's architect, Nancy Mackin, an expert in Nisga'a architectural and landscape history, explained, "Each garden and each plant has significance and symbolism. For example, the roots of the wild strawberries will interconnect just as the College students interact and connect." "The gardens will be also used as a teaching tool," stated Jim McDonald, NWCC's House of Learning and Applied Research Executive Director. "Culinary Arts students will learn to use some of the berries and herbs as ingredients in their recipes, for instance." Prior to the ceremony, the Kitsumkalum people invited the College to collect a variety of culturally relevant plants from Robin Town, the old capital of the Kitsumkalum First Nation on whose traditional territory NWCC's Terrace campus resides. Local First Nations elders from Kitsumkalum and Kitselas, and renowned ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner of the University of Victoria, helped place these heritage plants in the gardens. Approximately 50 people attended the May 21 ceremony including the City of Terraces Mayor Jack Talstra and city councillors Brad Pollard, Brian Downie, Dave Pernarowski and Carol Leclerc; Denis Gagne from MLA Robin Austins office; Deborah Wilson-Green and Roger Leclerc from the Kitimat Valley Institute Corporation (KVIC); David Griffin from Wilp Wil x o'oskwhl Nisga'a (WWN); Fern Scodane from the Terrace Nisga'a Society; Metis representative Darcy Petuh; community members; and NWCC staff. Indigenous Gardens are also being created at NWCC's Prince Rupert Campus. A soil turning and blessing ceremony was held for those gardens in mid-March of this year.

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