THUNDER BAY – Today, the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) launched a community garden initiative called Omaanake Gagii-Dazhii Maamaw Ombigiyang, which means ‘A Place We Grow Together’.
Throughout the community garden initiative, community members are encouraged to participate in the planting and maintenance of the garden, partake in cultural teachings, benefit from the fresh produce, and enjoy a sense of community as we “grow together.”
For Aboriginal people, land is a basic component of survival, growth and overall well-being. “A great deal of respect for Mother Earth is embedded within Traditional Aboriginal cultures,” explains Betty Kennedy, ONWA Executive Director. “Respect and preservation of Traditional Teachings are important factors in everything that we do at ONWA, and the garden – Omaanake Gagii-Dazhii Maamaw Ombigiyahg – is a great opportunity to share those elements of our culture with the community.”
The garden has been planted with Traditional teachings in mind, particularly the ‘Three Sisters’ concept. The ‘Three Sisters’ is a method of sustainable farming that stems from the Oneida and Ojibway cultures, and is still widely used in modern day farming. The Oneida creation story tells of how gifts of corn, squash and beans, “the three sisters”, were received from the Skywoman, the great grandmother of the tribe.
“A ‘Three Sisters’ garden grows together to strengthen each other, and is a good example of people living well and properly with Mother Earth by respecting the past and providing for future generations,” explains Kennedy. “Throughout the garden process, we hope to not only provide fresh fruit and vegetables to those who need it, but to teach our community members how to create and sustain their own gardens, which is great way to encourage healthy eating and personal food security.”
Community Garden maintenance, activities, and teachings will be taking place on Tuesdays along with the regularly scheduled Community Kitchen from 12pm -2pm, and on Wednesdays along with the regularly scheduled afternoon workshops from 12pm -3pm. The fresh produce grown in the garden is available to anyone who needs it. Everyone interested in benefiting from the Community Garden is encouraged to come out and participate.
For more information about the Garden and how you can get involved, contact ONWA at 807-623-3442.