Awesome Kingston’s April 2024 grant supports a Traditional Medicine garden at SACK

The Traditional Medicine and Pollinator Healing Garden will look something like this, according to Jayme Blondin, the Indigenous Counsellor at SACK. Supplied photo.

Every month, Awesome Kingston awards a $1,000 grant to projects the trustees think will keep Kingston awesome. This month, the micro-grant was awarded to the Indigenous Counsellor at the Sexual Assault Centre to create a Traditional Medicine and Pollinator Healing Garden tailored specifically for survivors of sexualized violence in our community.

Jayme Blondin has been the Indigenous Counsellor at Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK) for the past six years, providing individual and group counselling for community members (ages 12 and up of all genders) in KFL&A, in addition to advocacy and culturally centered support.

“My program operates on a limited budget and I have wanted to do this garden project for the past few years, but I have just not had the funds or time. My colleague suggested reaching out to Awesome Kingston and I found that their mandate really aligned with our values and goals for this project,” Blondin told Kingstonist in an interview.

A Medicine Garden is a space to grow Traditional Medicines that many Indigenous community members use in their daily life (Sage, Tobacco, Sweet Grass, and Cedar). According to Blondin, each Medicine has its own properties and uses.

“Many of our clients don’t have access to green spaces in their homes and communities, this garden will give people the ability to grow and harvest their own Medicines in a healing space alongside other survivors. There is a lot of healing to be found in community-minded spaces,” she expressed.

“We added the idea of a pollinator garden so we could have additional plants that are native to this area that will hopefully add to the pollinators in our neighbourhood and increase biodiversity. SACK is committed to many social justice minded goals, but we often fall short in our commitment to this land. This is a concrete way we can contribute to the stewardship of the land we are occupying.”

SACK has offered an Indigenous Counselling program for nearly 10 years, Blondin noted, adding that a current challenge she faces in her role is a lack of access for Land-based programming.

“I often rely on the generosity of other agencies and community members to offer Land-based programming, such as ceremonies or forest therapy workshops. This garden will give the program access to Land-based Teachings at our office space, which will help with overall costs, time management, and provide a serene space at our otherwise sterile outside space.”

According to Blondin, Indigenous Counselling at SACK works on the belief that healing from trauma requires holistic approaches that honor Indigenous wisdom, and this garden will provide a nurturing environment for survivors to embark on their healing journey.

“Through the cultivation of medicinal plants, engagement in traditional ceremonies, and fostering connections with pollinators and the land, our project seeks to promote resilience, empowerment, and restoration for survivors in a culturally affirming way,” she explained.

The money from Awesome Kingston will go directly toward purchasing plants, as well as garden tools and supplies. There is already a garden space available outside the SACK offices, which Blondin is ready to fill with native and medicinal specimens. Once complete, the garden will be tended by Blondin, as well as clients, staff, and volunteers.

“I plan on doing much of the care myself this summer as well as with clients — it will provide an alternative to counselling just in the office space,” Blondin said, noting that volunteer and donation support would be greatly appreciated.

Anyone who would like to support the Traditional Medicine and Pollinator Healing Garden at SACK is asked to contact Blondin directly at [email protected].

Learn more about Awesome Kingston and how they help keep Kingston awesome here.

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