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Kelowna News

Indigenous garden to hold prominent place on Okanagan College campus

Saskatoon berries are pictured in this stock image.
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

KELOWNA - Okanagan College will have a new addition to its Kelowna campus this summer - an Indigenous garden.

The $40,000 garden will have a prominent location just north of the Centre for Learning Building, according to an Okanagan College media release, one of the busiest buildings for students and staff.

The 6,000 square foot garden will have over 50 plants, including Saskatoon berry bushes.

The na’?k’?ulam?n garden is meant to show the relationship between nature and Indigenous people. The name is a Nsyilxcen word meaning "the things that we do."

“This relationship we have with each other and the natural environment is rooted in being respectful and thankful,”Aboriginal Services Coordinator Anthony Isaac says in the release. “We make offerings before we harvest, saying our thanks to the plants or animals for giving their lives for us and never taking too much.”

According to Schneider, there will be a pathway running through the garden, along with an entrance and various signage.

The garden will be an example of how to incorporate local native plants. Because the plants are indigenous to the Okanagan, they require very little maintenance and the garden will be self sustaining.

Schneider says even though they are native plants, some weren't easy to acquire.

“We’ve narrowed it down to three garden centers, I believe one of them will be able to provide all the plants we need,” Schneider said.

The College says to ensure that Indigenous history and culture is depicted accurately, it is working closely with local edlers, historians and members of surrounding first nations communities.

Okanagan College received a $5,000 Canada 150 grant to help pay for the garden.

Some First Nation have been critical of Canada 150, saying instead of celebrating confederation, it celebrates colonialism.

“We have been working alongside Westbank First Nation on this project and consulted them before applying for the grant to see if it was appropriate,” Schneider says. “This garden isn’t about Canada 150, it’s Canada 150 plus, these plants have been used for centuries.”

Work on the garden is underway and is expected to open in July.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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