TD gives $85,000 to help kids and newcomers access Okanagan College’s Indigenous Garden

By College Relations | October 18, 2022

Kalamalka Garden TD gift
Doug Brayshaw, TD; Justen Peters, Okanagan College; Jane Lister, Okanagan College; Chelsea Schroth, TD

Hawthorn, wolf willow, and sage are among the traditional plants growing in the garden on the hillside at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, which this year was visited by more than 250 local school children, thanks to generous support from TD Bank Group.

TD’s gift, made earlier in 2022, is funding tours of the K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten - Kalamalka Indigenous garden for children and newcomers to Canada. The garden is located on Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.

Okanagan College has already received a portion of the funding; the remainder will be distributed over the next three years. This year’s donation allowed the College to provide garden tours for more than 250 children.

“My class had a fantastic experience at the Indigenous garden,” says Kim Tyssen, a fourth grade teacher, at BX Elementary School. “They learned so much about the traditional use of local plants and were really excited to get the opportunity to touch, taste, and see them. They also really enjoyed the traditional stories and Syilx song.”

“We’re proud that our gift has enabled so many children and newcomers to Canada to learn about Syilx culture and develop a deeper understanding of plant medicine,” says Carolyn Scotchmer, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. “We believe we have an obligation to future generations to take care of our planet and are excited to support this work over four years as part of the TD Ready Commitment.”

The K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten - Kalamalka Indigenous garden was created in 2017 by a small group of employees and students from Okanagan College as well as members of the Dennis Family. Elder Theresa Dennis granted the permission required to gather and harvest 30 plants from Syilx Okanagan nation land and transplant them into the garden.

Kalamalka Garden

Garden tours are provided by Justen Peters, a member of the Syilx community. Peters says, “My family has lived in the Okanagan since time immemorial. I feel a deep connection to these hills, to these rivers, to these lakes. In our Indigenous language nsyilxcn, we say timxulax (teem-who-lah) when we refer to our mother, the earth. I am honoured to have been mentored by elders from The Okanagan Indian Band on how to work with Indigenous plants, and I’m excited and proud to share pieces of my culture with students, newcomers to Canada, or anyone willing to listen.”

The K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten - Kalamalka Indigenous garden is part of Okanagan College’s Indigenization plan and represents an ongoing commitment to working with, and learning from, Indigenous communities.

“We’re so grateful to TD for their gift. Over the next four years, it has the potential to allow hundreds of local children to learn traditional Syilx knowledge and develop a new understanding of and appreciation for the land.” Jane Lister, regional dean, Okanagan College.

Tags: Vernon, Indigenization, OC Foundation



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