Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

AN EXPRESSION FROM THE HEART – The RCMP heart garden was unveiled in front of the Yukon RCMP’s Fourth Avenue headquarters Tuesday morning. Inset Scott Sheppard, Calista MacLeod, Christina Peters, left-right.

‘This beautiful garden is planted in unity’

A group of RCMP officers and elected officials met with First Nations leaders late Tuesday morning to unveil a freshly bloomed heart garden on the police headquarters’ lawn.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 14, 2019

A group of RCMP officers and elected officials met with First Nations leaders late Tuesday morning to unveil a freshly bloomed heart garden on the police headquarters’ lawn.

“The garden’s purpose is really nothing more than to act as a reminder of reconciliation and its importance and its power,” said RCMP Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard. 

The plot of red and pink petunia flowers was planted in the shape of a heart. The flowers are flanked by statuettes of a wolf and a raven, representing the Ta’an Kwäch’än and Kwanlin Dün First Nations. They were created by the local Youth of Today Society. 

Sheppard credited the idea for the garden to RCMP Sgt. Calista MacLeod, who was present at the ceremony. Other detachments across the territory are emulating the idea, Sheppard said.

“In my view, the garden represents a fairly meaningful metaphor,” Sheppard said. “Much like a relationship, if it isn’t cared for, if it isn’t nurtured, it doesn’t develop; it doesn’t grow and it doesn’t bear any fruit. 

“While this is a small gesture on the part of RCMP, we hope it’ll serve as a reminder of our lasting commitment to reconciliation.”

Jessie Dawson, a Kwanlin Dün councillor, led the group in a unity prayer to begin and end the ceremony. In her remarks, she called the garden “a beautiful gift.

“This is a start, and we still have a ways to go,” Dawson said. “I’m happy to hear we’re doing it across the territory; it’s a beautiful gesture.”

Ta’an Käch’än Deputy Chief Christina Peters agreed.

“This beautiful garden is planted in unity,” Peters said.

“We all hope it will serve as a building block for the future.”

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee expressed hope for the garden as a visual reminder of striving toward reconciliation.

“Reconciliation is complex … and it’s a journey,” McPhee said.

“This is a wonderful example of community coming together and recognizing the importance of these kinds of visual representations.”

Mayor Dan Curtis reflected that relations “haven’t been great” with First Nations, but is optimistic that things are steadily improving.

“We can’t change the past, but we can change practices that lead to positive relationships with Indigenous people,” Curtis said.

“I know there is still a lot of work to be done, but I’m satisfied with the progress we’ve made so far.

“I implore every person here to reflect on what reconciliation means to them and what they can do to help our community progress.”

Comments (4)

Up 4 Down 1

joe on Aug 20, 2019 at 3:13 pm

How did we go from the term first people, meaning aboriginals living in Canada in recent history ( 18,000 years of a 4 billion year planet life) to the term " First Nation" ?? Aren't we in a time and place where we have evolved from identifiers and labels to a diversified Canada equal to all? I guess not.

Up 10 Down 2

eyeroll on Aug 15, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Just in time for winter!

Up 5 Down 8

Yukoner on Aug 14, 2019 at 10:10 pm

Better than the 'eyesore' on 2 mile hill!

Up 3 Down 5

Clifford L Olson on Aug 14, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Very nice set for there. Been there and nice people overseeing it.
All the best to all involved.

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