The garden is located at the top of a hill, overlooking the Ottawa River or as the Algonquin Peoples call it, the Kitchissippi or Great River. It is a space for teaching and learning, for spirituality and reflection, for prayer and for healing through the natural medicines that will grow from the grounds of the medicine wheel garden.
"This is a space for everyone. Grounded in Indigenous culture, but dedicated in the spirit of inclusion," said Algonquin College President and CEO Claude Brulé.
"As an Indigenous student who attends the Pembroke Campus, I believe today signifies the start of a journey towards reconciliation," said Stephania Smith, who is studying to become a Social Service Worker. Smith has been instrumental in establishing a Student Indigenous Committee at the campus and is a strong advocate for Indigenous students.
"I believe in having a space where Indigenous students can connect with each other and navigate their own journeys of discovery at Algonquin College. A space to feel welcome, to share stories, to practice culture, to share events with each other and the community. A space where we feel comfort with the scents of our traditional medicines," added Smith.
Campus Dean Sarah Hall reflected on the space and the College's Truth and Reconciliation journey in her remarks. "The garden is part of our journey and it also represents that journey. Many, many hands have helped. It is not perfect, it is not complete, and there is much more work to be done both in the garden and our surrounding arboretum. It is in its youth, as is our learning. The plants are young but growing, reaching higher and wider to learn more, not unlike our own pathway to Truth and Reconciliation," said Hall.
Following the dedication ceremony, guests joined for three sisters soup and Indigenous drumming inside the Pembroke Commons.