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Fanshawe Honours First Nations Groups With Trees

Project type: 
Million Tree Challenge

The Fanshawe First Nations Centre’s Year-End Gathering brought together Native and non-Native communities on March 20 to celebrate the success of Fanshawe’s Indigenous students. 

Hundreds of people from the six First Nation groups in London and the surrounding area were in attendance. As part of the celebrations, Fanshawe College presented each group with a cedar tree to be planted in their honour at ReForest London’s Celebration Forest. Everyone was invited to the tree planting ceremony in London on May 24. 

The idea to recognize each nation in this way came from Amanda Richman, Fanshawe College’s Sustainability Coordinator. She says, “Sustainability is not only about the environment but also about social justice and equality. I want to create a good relationship between the college and First Nations communities, and donating more mature trees to the different nations is a significant gesture of our relationship and respect for the communities.” 

ReForest London presents tree vouchers

Kevin Lamure, Manager of Fanshawe’s First Nations Centre, was happy about the choice to give trees: “Trees clean our air, make a healthy environment, and are an integral part of First Nations culture. The way history has rolled out, though, many of the younger generation don’t truly understand the significance of trees.” He adds, “The earth is facing troubled times, so anything we can do to educate them on the importance of trees and encourage planting them is good.” 

Kevin says the gift of a cedar tree carries further meaning for all of these local First Nations communities. Although all trees native to this area are technically medicinal, he explains, the cedar is significant in that it is one of the four medicinal properties used in smudging, an important cleansing and healing ceremony for Indigenous Peoples. 

The Year-End Gathering, in its 18th year and growing steadily, is a great celebration bringing the local communities together. This year’s event featured Aboriginal craft vendors, demonstrations of pow wow and longhouse dancing, and songs by Featuring Straight Sound, Naahii, and the Oneida Longhouse Singers. Later in the day there were traditional teachings, including a talk about understanding Indigenous Peoples’ connection to Mother Earth.    

Dancers at First Nations Year End Gathering

Amanda, who co-organized the day’s event, says it’s a great opportunity for Londoners to experience Indigenous culture, since there's usually so much social distance between First Nations communities and life in the city. She adds that planting the trees in The Celebration Forest means that the names of the six nations will be on display, reminding Londoners that First Nations people are an integral part of our London community. 

The Celebration Forest tree planting ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 24, 1 - 3:30 pm and is open to the public. Anyone who would like to have a tree planted in honour or memory at this ceremony is encouraged submit their order to ReForest London by May 11. See more on purchasing a tree in memory or in celebration for this year's ceremony.