Today’s post comes from Jess Matthews, Chief Naturalist of Rondeau Provincial Park.
A change was needed at the Rondeau Visitor Center and we wanted it to be big.
We worked with three different local indigenous communities over five years to come up with something amazing.
Aamjiwnaang, Eelünaapèewii Lahkèewiit and Caldwell First Nationsyes We’ve teamed up with Ontario Parks to create an inclusive and accessible experience of culture and tradition that has something for everyone, right here in Rondeau!
Plant a seed
The first full installation came from Aamjiwnaang Nurseries in collaboration with Return the Landscape.
What was once a tangle of overgrown vines and weeds was transformed into a plot of native plants, complete with rain gardens. It was designed to reflect the main ecosystems of Rondeau, the Carolinian forest, the oak savanna and the freshwater dunes.
Pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds frequent the garden, along with a variety of wildlife that take advantage of the natural habitats.
Starting a garden was one of the most obvious choices for all parties.
The garden not only represents our main ecosystems, but represents a connection with the land, a concept shared by all those involved in the project.
The garden can be viewed from an accessible terrace with outdoor seating or from inside, where comfortable lounge chairs can extend your stay.
Eelünaapèewii Lahkèewiit representatives felt that a good representation of their current culture would show the resilience of traditional skills and teachings that connect them to the land.
Rondeau staff joined community members on their land to learn traditional construction methods. Indian stores; from the offerings of tobacco to the trees, the care taken in selecting the correct species of tree for each part and the physical strength needed to remove the bark and bend the saplings into place.
Staff had a full day of learning and left with an understanding of the importance of these structures as symbols of the past and tools to strengthen the community today.
A portion of a small Indian store It was then built into the Visitor Center to recognize the importance of these structures and represent the resilience of traditional knowledge.
Within Indian storeYou can rest for a while on one of the traditionally built benches and listen to the stories told by Bruce Stonefish, a member of the Lenape community.
There are two short clips you can experience: one sharing the importance of wigwams and the other, the Lenape creation story.
Painting a picture
Something that really draws people in is the beautiful painting by Aamjiwnaang artist John Williams.
The painting depicts a mother bear with her cub, strong symbols in Ojibwe culture and personally important to John Williams, a member of the bear clan.
Inside the bears are images related to the seasons, cultural figures and important plants, all with the colors of the medicine wheel.
The medicine wheel was also represented through the art of Naomi Peters, a Caldwell artist.
He contributed eight paintings depicting the seven animals from Grandfather’s teachings around the medicine wheel.
These animals, although not all currently native to Rondeau, are prominent in Ojibwe culture and show the strength of the history of these teachings, which date back to a time when the ranges of people and animals were greater. .
Last year, Caldwell First Nations created a narrative walk that will be located along the Tulip Tree Trail.
Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the trail as they follow Rainey and Mkinaak’s journey as the characters share traditional stories about the wildlife they see along the way.
This is a great opportunity to learn something about Anishinaabemowin. Kids love this experience as they race to the next page of the story.
While traveling on this trip with Aamjiwnaang, Eelünaapèewii Lahkèewiit and Caldwell First Nations, we attended many celebrations, including pow wows, Distribution Day and Heritage Days, and met community members from all over, many of whom told stories and shared their language with us. .
Many of these moments were captured to be included on touch screens in the Visitor Center for others to learn as we have.
The word “gathering” in English, Lenape and Ojibwe is written on the art as a tribute to the efforts of all park staff and community members who came together to make this project possible.
It also represents knowledge gathering, an essential part of advancing our shared future.