Trail of Song Healing Forest in Lumby proposed by National Healing Forests Initiative

Lumby to get Healing Forest

A North Okanagan forest will be added to Canada’s national network of Healing Forests.

Trail of Song Healing Forest in Lumby is one of 16 healing forests proposed by the National Healing Forests Initiative (NHFI) and David Suzuki Foundation.

Healing Forests are green spaces dedicated to honouring residential school victims and survivors, their families and communities and to promote learning and reconciliation.

“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day to reflect, but it’s also a day to act,” said Patricia Stirbys, Saulteaux Cree from Saskatchewan (Cowessess First Nation), an Indigenous relations specialist and NHFI co-founder. “Every person needs to take up the challenge of reconciliation. That’s why we wanted to grow the Healing Forests network, to help people begin their journey towards understanding and healing.”

Since launching in 2015, the initiative’s network included 10 Healing Forests, which are quiet, natural spaces that provide an immersive educational experience, combining reconciliation and healing into one.

This spring, the David Suzuki Foundation announced it would provide small grants to groups proposing new Healing Forests and from 59 applicants, 16 projects were selected.

“The beautiful thing about Healing Forests is that they can be any size and location,” said Jode Roberts, with the David Suzuki Foundation. “On the grounds of a school or church. On private or public land. Wild, rural or urban. What’s important is that they bring people together to learn about this country’s past, spend time in nature, and work towards reconciliation.”

The local organizers receiving funding in 2022 to support the creation of new healing forests include a hospital, two elementary schools and a high school, a community farm, municipal parks and wilderness trails and several First Nations.

The forests are located across Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan. All Healing Forests are developed through meaningful relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

“Reconciliation is a long journey, but it starts with each of us,” said NHFI co-founder Peter Croal. “Healing Forests can be a pathway to beginning that journey, literally. We look forward to seeing the Healing Forests flourish and to expanding the network even more next year.”

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