Trees go missing from ceremonial community garden

Rocks used during a ceremony on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Painted by Jaylene Cardinal, Land Council Member and Cree artist.

Eighteen trees appear to have been stolen from a community garden and ceremonial space on Highway 15 in Kingston.

“We are deeply distressed by this sad and apparently malicious act that is frankly beyond our comprehension,” said Rev. Nan Hudson. She said the apparent theft was discovered on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

“We were on the land together [Sunday] for a two-hour meeting. Yes, it was freezing,” she noted. “We noticed one particularly lovely blue spruce was gone. A later walk around the property revealed holes where the other trees had been.”

Hudson is asking anyone with information about the stolen trees or suspicious activity on the land at 1467 Hwy. 15 to notify the Kingston Police immediately.

Rev. Hudson said the land is meant to be a place where local Indigenous people can gather outdoors for their own purposes, come together with non-Indigenous people for ceremony, sharing and learning, and grow Indigenous vegetables and sacred medicines. Since 2017 they’ve held an annual gathering on July 1st (Canada Day) for ceremony, prayer and a re-commitment to “to walking into a shared future in a good way,” she said.

The initiative is called ‘Walking the Path of Peace Together’ (WTPPT).

A Land Council was formed in the summer of 2018, to guide the initiative forward.

“It is comprised of a majority of Indigenous community members, some Faith United members, and a few wider church representatives,” Rev. Hudson said. “Until Covid-19 stopped us in March 2020, we were meeting monthly for a dinner planning meeting.”

Land Council member, Cree artist Jaylene Cardinal, painting the Medicine Wheel on a new shed at the property in September 2020. Supplied photo.

Developing the green space

In 2019, a well was dug, and a pump, shed, and generator were all installed to bring water to the property. One hundred Eastern Cedar seedlings were planted and a sign was erected in three languages (Mohawk / Kanien’kéha, Ojibway / Anishinaabemowin and English) to identify the purpose of the project.

“This sign at the front of the property along the busy highway was designed for free by a Land Council member, Cree artist Jaylene Cardinal. Jaylene also designed the logo embraced by everyone for this project,” Rev. Hudson said.

“This past summer and in spite of the limitations imposed by the pandemic, the land has gone from being an empty field to a beautiful property with several garden beds and a large garden plot,” Rev. Hudson said. The garden produced “an incredible harvest of food,” donated to Loving Spoonful, and other networks.

“Over 40 trees were planted, including a wind and sound barrier and a large tree on the corners of each of the Four Directions, with a corresponding painted post in the colour of that direction,” Rev. Hudson said. “A sacred centre point was identified around a granite rock on the land, and prayer and ceremony has taken place and continues to take place there.”

“Throughout all of these activities that have transformed the land into a beautiful, productive and usable sacred space, it is volunteers who have come together to make it happen, both Indigenous and settler,” she said.

Rev. Hudson said she is hopeful people with information can come forward to help them determine what has happened on their property.

Kingston Police can be contacted at 613-549-4660.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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