The official name of the Educational Pollantator Indigenous Carbon Capture (EPICC) garden at Ècole Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) was announced during a ceremony on March 21.
The day began with an unveiling of the new sign and new name, Okawimaw Asksisis which is Cree for “little mother earth,” followed by a blessing and smudging by Elder Bert Bull.
“We were able to celebrate the opening of the garden and provide it with an indigenous name. The LCHS students also got to experience our indigenous culture with dancing, beading, drumming, storytelling, bison burger and bannock meal and powwow,” said Steven Schultz, EcoVision program facilitator.
Students have been working on the project for three years and Schultz said the garden has opened the door for students to learn about indigenous culture while helping our climate.
It features plants that are being “reintroduced.” The 25 local plants hold value to Indigenous peoples and encourage pollinators. Some of the plants include, three flowered avens, (Kiseyiniw Meyastowana), giant hyssop, yarrow wapanewask), blue bell (ka sipihkwawaw nipihkansa), Philadelphia fleabane, sweetgrass (Wihkaskwa), fireweed (ihkapaskwa) and willow.
The garden also captures rainwater, reclaims the land, provides a peaceful habitat for animals and a space for the residents and students to enjoy.
Visitors to the garden are able to learn about the plants by scanning QR codes. The information was provided by Elders and includes information about medicinal uses of the plants, which ones are edible and how they are part of Indigenous culture.
Schultz said overall the day went very well.
“I am very proud of the EcoVision students who have been part of every process involved in this project including researching, fundraising, planning, collaborating, building and organizing the celebration event,” said Schultz.
He added that any residents of Lacombe who want to get involved with the project through Friends of the Gardens and Goats (FOGG ), can do so by emailing Steven.firstname.lastname@example.org.