The St. Albert Healing Garden Opening And Celebration

Community-led initiative commits to healing and reconciliation

After months of preparation and years of planning, The St. Albert Healing Garden officially opened to the public on Friday, September 15 with a spiritual pipe ceremony and celebration.

One of the first of its kind in Canada, the collaborative initiative between the City of St. Albert and greater community acknowledges survivors of Indian Residential Schools and provides a place of truth and reconciliation. St. Albert was home to two residential schools: St. Albert Indian Residential School (Youville, located on Mission Hill) and Edmonton Indian Residential School (Poundmaker, located about six km east of downtown St. Albert).

Approved for construction by St. Albert City Council in 2015, the initiative was led by a planning committee made up of residential school survivors, representatives from the First Nations and Métis communities, United Church, Catholic Church, St. Albert Arts and Heritage Foundation, Michif Cultural Connections, City of St. Albert and public.

“This is one step towards reconciliation,” says Mayor Nolan Crouse. “The garden is a place for reflection, peace, understanding and learning. A place for coming together with family and children, a place for storytelling, ceremonies and prayers, and a place for peaceful contemplation and cleansing the spirit.”

Located in the heart of the community on the north side of the Sturgeon River, across from St. Albert Place, the garden is a visible sign of the community’s commitment to walk in right relations with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and with all Nations.

“The investment in The St. Albert Healing Garden is among the steps our government is making on the journey of reconciliation. The Government of Canada is proud to have supported the City of St. Albert in the completion of this project, which will help to heal the wounds of the past while inspiring both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples to move forward in a renewed relationship towards a brighter future,” says the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.

A therapeutic sanctuary for survivors of Indian Residential Schools, the community can come together to learn, grow and heal from the pain and loss that was endured as a result of a system that tore families apart and uprooted cultures.

A sensory garden, central gathering area and pathway make up the space. Each area speaks to the four natural elements of earth, air, fire, water – with the overall space designed to align with the four cardinal directions.

  • Sensory Garden:
    The sensory garden is a place for healing, awakening the senses and connecting with ancestors. Culturally-significant plantings scent the air, engaging visitors’ senses of smell, sight, touch and taste. Natural wood benches and an overhead shade structure create a comfortable and safe environment for quiet contemplation, the freedom to express emotion and opportunity to be present in the moment.
  • Central Gathering Area:
    Boulders around the central gathering area create a strong connection to the earth. According to one committee member “stones speak for us when we cannot.”
  • Pathway:
    Lined with trees, the pathway connects the space south to the river, emphasizing its relationship to water and the sun. Walking along the path also reinforces a sense of journey.

The St. Albert Healing Garden has been generously supported by the City of St. Albert, Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (Western Economic Diversification), Province of Alberta, Anglican Church of Canada’s Healing Response Committee, as well as private and community donors.

For more information, visit The Healing Garden page.


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