A new rock garden with a special meaning was on full display at Holy Cross Elementary School in Cold Lake Tuesday afternoon. The Lakeland Catholic school hosted an official opening as well as an Elder Reconciliation Ceremony. The garden comes as students learn about Indigenous peoples, including the Dene people of the neighbouring Cold Lake First Nations.
Vice-Principal Val Hanson helped spearhead the project. She says the garden was a labour born out of learning.
“The idea of a reconciliation rock garden evolved one year ago as we embarked on education planning for this year. In order to move forward as a school towards reconciliation, there were two things that were essential. The first being that the students needed to know why we needed to reconcile and the second is that they had to be involved in a concrete action of reconciliation.”
The ceremony featured prayers in both English and Dene as well as speeches from school staff and members of the Cold Lake First Nations. Students then took turns explaining what they had learned about Indigenous peoples and their history in the country.
The garden was funded by the students and features a Birch tree surrounded by eight different sections of painted rocks. The school says it hopes to continue adding to the garden in the coming years.