On Monday, we had the great privilege of assisting the University of Toronto with a very important tree planting initiative.

The tree, an Eastern White Pine, was planted as part of ongoing work between the University and its Indigenous community-led Truth and Reconciliation Commission steering committee, and was “a response to the TRC’s call to dedicated current spaces to the Indigenous experience.”

The planting was celebrated with a ceremony that included remarks from the University’s President Meric Gertler and Associate Professor (and academic adviser on Indigenous curriculum and education to the vice-president and provost) Susan Hill.

Skahendowaneh Swamp, chair of Indigenous knowledge at the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University and a Wolf Clan Faith Keeper of the Mohawk Nation, opened the ceremony with a Thanksgiving address and later and shared a story about the Peacemaker and the teachings be brought to the Earth. Swamp explained how these teachings help us understand how to respect, love, and welcome one another. He also discussed the significance and symbolism of the White Pine tree in the Peacemaker’s teachings.

The ceremony was held on Orange Shirt Day, recognized annually on Sept 30th. This day was designed to educate Canadians about the residential school system and the trauma that this system inflicted on Indigenous communities in Canada for more than a century, and the impact that it continues to have to this day. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to provide the tree for this event and assist with the initial planting of the tree. We are also honoured to create a health care program for this tree to ensure that it will establish in this new environment and be a part of this community for decades to come.

Be Good to Your Trees!

Kristie Nairn, MA, MMst
Cohen & Master Tree and Shrub Services Ltd.