July 26, 2016

A place for people to meet, share, and connect

In 2015, the Shaw Conference Centre officially unveiled a Community Medicine Wheel Garden placed on the rooftop of its Riverview Room overlooking Edmonton’s River Valley. Guided by a local Cree Elder, the garden is designed to be universal in its teachings and be a place for people to meet, share and connect.

Throughout time indigenous communities have worked with medicine wheels for sacred rituals, ceremonies, everyday blessings, cleansing and visions. They gave thanks, asked for guidance, used intuition and understood their world on many levels.

Our Community Medicine Wheel Garden was a passion project for our General Manager, Lisanne Lewis. We asked her, from conception to completion, what memories stand out?

“The garden was about two years in the making, and building it wasn’t the only hard part. The learnings for us were around understanding the history and traditions that have to be respected in the building of a garden like this.

A few years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearings was held here and as a city it was an opportunity to acknowledge our history. Our Medicine Wheel Garden is a symbol, recognizing we are on traditional Treaty Six territory and that we honour our historic ties to Indigenous people. Most importantly, I think people want to see a reflection of themselves and their community in a convention centre, and this Medicine Wheel Garden reflects exactly that.

We celebrated the official opening of this garden with several Aboriginal community leaders and the Elder who had guided our teachings. As the Elder and I stood looking out over the river valley, he pointed out two eagles circling above us. He told me this was a very good sign and that these same eagles had been circling above the convention centre during the Truth and Reconciliation event.

First Nations people consider the eagle to be sacred. Eagles, as the highest flying birds, are seen to be nearer to the Creator and believed to be spirit guides and messengers, carrying our prayers to help connect us to the Creator. He felt the eagles circling above us were like a blessing, a sign that we’re on the right path with the spirit and intent of our work. I was grateful for the interpretation and felt happy we had made a good, honourable contribution to our community and history.”

All Edmontonians and visitors to our city are encouraged to walk through the garden and learn of its teachings. This garden belongs to the people.

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