Native plants were incorporated at the Chinook Regional Hospital grounds this week as a resource moving forward to grow a healing garden as a part of reconciliation for Indigenous patients.

AHS Indigenous Health Hanager Samantha First Charger shared AHS’s introduction of the healing gardens and the focus moving forward on cultural education.

“I think the introduction to the gardens is bringing Blackfoot traditional knowledge into AHS sites and facilities. So, what our first-year focus is on education. The healing gardens as a means of educating the patients, the staff, the community on our traditional medicines that have traditional healing properties and hold significance,” said First Charger.

The four main plants within the healing gardens are sweetgrass, sage, mint, and saskatoons which hold significance to the Blackfoot community. First Charger expressed the lack of acknowledgement in the past and the significance the healing gardens will have to the Indigenous patience’s.

“Traditionally, AHS has operated on Western modes of therapy, and they were not great at acknowledging that we have long-held traditions and customs that worked well for us for thousands of years. So bringing these medicines and incorporating these medicines into the gardens that we see today hold significance to our people.”

The Indigenous spiritual ceremony policy was first implemented in AHS approximately around June 21, 2020, and is still currently giving Indigenous patients access to ceremonies. First Charger shared the relationship with the healing gardens and the Indigenous spiritual ceremony policy.

“I think the healing gardens go hand in hand with our introduction to Indigenous spiritual ceremony policy.”

AHS had three main themes for this year they are working towards: sustainability, healing, and education. AHS senior operating officer, Colin Zieber, noted the beginning of the Indigenous healing gardens and the training AHS staff have received for the benefit of Indigenous patients.

“We started a little bit last year where we were able to plant some sage and sweetgrass. But this year, we decided to, as a whole zone, we would focus on reconciliation through active planting of gardens across the zone… Making sure staff understand why they’re planting the plants, as well as making sure that they’re available for patients and families throughout the year,” said Zieber.

AHS obtained 1,000 native plants; approximately 16 southern zones received 100 plants to incorporate within the facility grounds. Zieber said it’s important to recognize the Blackfoot territory the hospital operates on and the need to incorporate traditional medicines.

“It’s important to acknowledge that we are on Blackfoot territory, that we have the privilege of providing health care services on Blackfoot territory, and that we need to incorporate traditional medicines and plants into the work we do.”

The native plants incorporated within the healing garden, mainly the sage, sweetgrass, and mint, were collected from the lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Zieber shared the vision AHS has in making hospitals a place of healing for Indigenous patients.

“Really this is part of the larger vision that we have to make this a house of healing, recognizing that this is a place where there’s illness, heartache, sickness, and that many Indigenous patients, families have faced tough situation when they come for care here. And again, this is recognizing that we’re making this a house of healing.”

By Steffanie Costigan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 27, 2023 at 08:29

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated