By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter
Oshawa’s Indigenous community can now enjoy some peace and healing in a new garden at Carea Community Health Centre.
Originally built about 13 years ago, Carea has rebuilt its Indigenous Healing Garden.
“It’s a safe space for our Indigenous community to go,” says Jeff Dart, manager of health promotion and community development services, adding one of the reasons the garden was rebuilt was so ceremonies can be held there.
“It gives the Indigenous community a sense of pride,” says Dart. “It’s somewhere they can go for their traditional beliefs, for praying to the creator, to learn about the sacred medicines,” says Dart, noting this is the only Indigenous healing garden in the Durham area.
“We have a very large Indigenous population in Durham and in Oshawa, and so it’s nice to have this space for our community members.”
The Indigenous Healing Garden sits behind the centre surrounded by trees, greenery, flowers, and vegetable gardens, which sits further down the path.
The garden itself houses four separate garden beds in a circular pattern with bench seating and pathways in the middle connecting the four beds.
Troy White, Carea’s Indigenous community facilitator, says the garden is based on the Indigenous medicine wheel with four colours in a circle, each colour representing the people – white, yellow, black and red. He explains the circle is split evenly, as no one controls the circle over another.
White says each direction has a different medicine, each with its own teaching or story associated with it, the first of which is tobacco, which usually sits in the east.
“It was the first medicine given to us and is the most important one for Indigenous peoples,” says White, who notes tobacco is used for communication.
Sage is the second medicine in the garden, which White says is scientifically proven to help relieve anxiety, adding it is typically dried and burned, and can also be used for cooking.
Sweetgrass is the third medicine in the garden, which White explains is used for strength.
“Typically you would braid seven strands of grass in three groups and braid it together for a sweet grass braid, which represents past, present and future,” says White.
Cedar trees surrounding the garden is the fourth medicine in the sacred space.
“When Europeans came here, our people would help those coming across with scurvy. We would feed them cedar tea,” he says, adding cedar is traditionally used to purify the home, and in many ceremonies is used as a form of protection.
White explains every aspect of nature has medicines, and creation is everywhere, however, he says it’s “wonderful the community has a place to come and gather in a designated area.”