Roots of Growth, is a student-led project at the University of Lethbridge, aims to memorialize the victims and survivors of the residential schooling system by planting 4 native trees across campus. Led by two university students, the following 3 trees and 2 bushes will be planted across campus:
- Lodge Pole Pine
- Golden Willow
- Sergeant Poplar
- Saskatoon Berry Bush x2
Community members will be able to use an app (see Digital App Project (link to Digital App Project Page)) or a brochure to navigate across campus to the plant locations. Along the way, they will learn about the plants from both the indigenous perspective (i.e., traditional plant uses, cultural significance, legends) and western perspective (i.e., botanical sketches, Latin names, qualities, characteristics, uses). This interactive approach to learning about plants, Blackfoot culture and traditions, and western science is meant to build awareness and activate new environmental stewards across our community. The project will also feature vital information about Residential schools and create a space for healing & reconciliation for our community.
The Roots of Growth Project was born out of a response to a call-to-action made by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Action Item #74 calls upon the government to commemorate the deaths of many children who fell victim to the residential schooling system (p. 12).
Residential schools were a formal schooling system that was started in the 1880s and ended in 1996. The federal government, alongside certain churches and religious organizations, attempted to destroy the culture, language, traditions, and identities of Indigenous peoples across Canada.
At least 150,000 indigenous children forcefully attended one of the 139 residential schools in Canada. At least 4,100 children died while attending a residential school, and many of these deaths remain unreported today.
Donors, Future Plans, and More. A report.