By Penny Connell
On April 29th I participated in Salal + Cedar’s third training for improving wildlife habitat on church grounds. The Rev. Laurel Dykstra, Gitxan and Nisgaa herbalist Leona Brown, and Rev. Elizabeth Mathers presented this workshop at St Clement’s in North Vancouver. It easily made the point of spiritual riches emanating from a native garden. At St. Clement’s Elizabeth and others have been at work rewilding the grounds for nearly seven years.
We at St. Bart’s in Gibsons have been awarded a grant of $550 to undertake the rewilding/restoration of our grounds so that they mesh with the undisturbed areas of the land we live on—land we have marred by our “civilization/acculturation” of it over the last 150 or so years here on the coast.
At the workshop we were given a great planning document and a list of resources, a list which does a lot of initial leg-work for us. These resources also open the door to more money in the form of grants. A further, charming take-away is a Bug Hotel and the materials and information with which to furnish and place it. As well, we enjoyed the company of wise, engaged, informed people and time to talk with them. We also received their assurance of support.
The great gift I received personally was the experience of sitting and walking in the gardens. Talk about spiritual!—and yes it was spiritual—and, I would say, religious! I participated in my very first smudge. I am so grateful that I could attend. I’ve come away with an abiding sense of peace and positivity!
Salal + Cedar partnered with the Diocese of New Westminster and received a Conservation BC grant to enhance wildlife habitat on the grounds of 10 churches by spring of 2023. We are very excited to have completed our first training workshop with participants from three congregations. St. Augustine in Marpole plans to create butterfly habitat on their boulevard, St. Alban in Richmond will be adding wildflowers around their labyrinth and St. Clement, where the training was held, will use the funds for plants and consultation for their larger welcome garden project. The training was led by Nisga’a and Gitxan herbalist Leona Brown, Laurel Dykstra from Salal + Cedar, and deacon Elizabeth Mathers who has stewarded the ongoing project on Coleman Creek at St. Clements. Participants shared their hopes, their ideas and questions and left with a packet of resources and the beginnings of a project plan. Alecia Greenfield from the Climate Emergency Working Group encouraged participants to apply for climate emergency funds from the diocese.
To date 4 churches have received funding for projects, and 3 more have made expressions of interest. If your parish has a plan in mind and could use additional funds ($350 for supplies, $200 to compensate Indigenous knowledge keepers or organizations) contact firstname.lastname@example.org.