John Abbott College Announces the First Peoples Garden & Microforest

John Abbott College students and employees along with special guests gathering on the land of the future First Peoples Garden and Microforest on campus on May 11, 2023, for the Welcome and Blessing Ceremony.

John Abbott College students and employees along with special guests gathered on campus on May 11, 2023, for the Welcome and Blessing Ceremony for the First Peoples Garden and Microforest.

John Halpin, John Abbott College Director General, began the event with a land acknowledgment as the College is on unceded Indigenous lands of the traditional territory of the Kanien’keha:ka “Mohawk” nation and a gathering place for so many more.

Kevin Deer, Faithkeeper from the Mohawk Trail Longhouse followed with the Welcome and Blessing Ceremony, along with a traditional song by Don Barnaby, traditional dancer, and cultural educator from Listuguj, currently residing in unceded Mohawk Territory outside Montreal in Kahnawà:ke.

The event was also a celebration as the College officially introduced the first of its’ kind in the CEGEP network: the Dean of Indigenous Education, John Abbott College alumni, Kim Tekakwitha Martin.

Today is a first step for John Abbott College and for the Indigenous community. It means so much to me to have everyone present and to be able to physically show the cooperation between the College and our community that we are being seen.
– Kim Tekakwitha Martin, Dean of Indigenous Education

The event then moved indoors for a light lunch that included traditional foods, such as corn soup with moose meat, and traditional song and dance by Don Barnaby and Thomasina Phillips, jingle dancer originally from Kahnawà:ke, and currently residing in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal).

From left to right: Thomasina Philips, Kim Tekakwitha Martin, and Don Barnaby.

The Garden is a symbol of John Abbott College’s advancement in Indigenous education. It will be a gathering space for the College community for generations to come.


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