Despite our grey wet days, the sun shone through gloriously this past Monday providing for a near perfect day to celebrate the new Britannia Urban (school) Garden. Also known as the BUG Project, students from Britannia Secondary School along with support from the Grandview Woodland Food Connection, the Environmental Youth Alliance and others have spent the last two school years designing, constructing and planting out this new food garden. It was now time to properly name and bless this garden.
Led by Sahplek Baker and Khelsilem Rivers from the Squamish Nation the garden was properly named and blessed to commemorate the land and traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples. Khelsilem, a young cultural educator, led a class of students on a previous day through a cultural history and naming process. The students, many of whom are First Nations themselves were super keen and interested to learn more about First Nations culture and language. The Squamish language is a Coast Salish language closely related to Halkomelem, another Coast Salish language locally spoken in our area. One of the student’s first questions was why the 7 used in many Squamish words, including the Squamish name Sḵwxwú7mesh. The 7 is a glottal stop or a gap between the vocal folds – as in on/ion. Of course the students were super keen to have a 7 in their new garden name.
We wanted to give the BUG a proper Coast Salish name. The students were asked to think of what the garden meant to them. Words like life, beauty, respect, growth, appreciation, and change came to mind. Two names were finally taken to a vote – Beautiful life and Transformed Life (the garden used to be a rather empty unused space). The vote was a tie and came down to a single tie breaker vote. The decision was Transformed Life – or Nexways wa lh7áynexw.
The next Monday, Sahplek and Khelsilem conducted the blessing. Led by an opening prayer song, 4 girls and one boy circled the garden 4 times and brushed away bad energy, using cedar boughs and river water to do the brushing. One this was done 4 witnesses were invited to say a few words on what they have experienced in the garden. It was very moving to hear the words of these witnesses, three who were students and one teacher.
It was really a beautiful event for a beautiful garden that has been lovingly embraced by the students and teachers. Three classes have been working and learning in the garden with support from the Environmental Youth Alliance who have been doing much of the teaching and curriculum development. The garden has been an important learning experience for many students who have never planted a seed before. They certainly learned a lot.
For more pictures visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gwfc/7370968512/in/set-72157630124724004
For more information on the BUG Project visit: http://www.britanniacentre.org/services/community_services/food_sustainability/articles217.php