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Co-op canoe installation to honour First Nations reconciliation

Co-op canoe installation to honour First Nations reconciliation

Bain Housing Co-op in Toronto plans to honour the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission by installing a painted canoe in a prominent position as a garden space for indigenous plants.

Cree elder Pauline Shirt and project organizer John Sharkey, both co‑op members, came up with the Bain Honour Canoe idea after talking about the idea of reconciliation.

Les Harper, a First Nations mural artist, will decorate the canoe. Plants will include the four sacred medicines: sage, cedar, tobacco and sweetgrass.

“The Indigenous initiative in Canada is at the cutting edge of the environmental movement because their traditional philosophy revolves around stewardship of the land,” explained Sharkey.

Linda Campbell, CHF Canada’s Director Representing Aboriginal Communities, is glad to see this project going forward. “It’s been a long journey,” she said. “There’s an Indigenous need in this world. I’m hopeful that our perspective will be recognized, our voices heard.”

CHF Canada has contributed to the costs of the installation. “We’re pleased to be able to support Bain’s innovative project,” said CHF Canada Director, Sector Development, Karla Skoutajan. “The Bain Honour Canoe is an example of how housing co‑ops can demonstrate their commitment to reconciliation and inclusive communities.”

Prior to a dedication ceremony in early June, Bain is hosting a series of gatherings for co‑op members and neighbours. Each educational event focuses on Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations, from a neighbourhood walk with Indigenous guides, to understanding treaties and the impact of colonization.