$85,000 TD Bank donation brings students to Okanagan College’s Indigenous Garden

Garden shares Syilx culture

A big boost from TD Bank Group will help more people make use of Okanagan College’s Indigenous Garden at its Kalamalka campus.

The TD donation of $85,000 is funding tours of the K'nma?ka Senqâ?ten garden for children and newcomers to Canada.

Hawthorn, wolf willow, and sage are among the traditional plants growing in the hillside garden overlooking Kalamalka Lake.

More than 250 local school children visited the garden this year.

The college has already received a portion of the funding, and the remainder will be distributed over the next three years.

“My class had a fantastic experience at the Indigenous garden,” says Kim Tyssen, a fourth grade teacher at BX Elementary School. “They learned so much about the traditional use of local plants and were really excited to get the opportunity to touch, taste, and see them. They also really enjoyed the traditional stories and Syilx song.”

Carolyn Scotchmer, with the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, says: “We’re proud that our gift has enabled so many children and newcomers to Canada to learn about Syilx culture and develop a deeper understanding of plant medicine.”

The garden was created in 2017 by a small group of employees and students from Okanagan College as well as members of the Dennis Family. Elder Theresa Dennis granted permission to harvest 30 plants from Syilx land and transplant them to the garden.

Tours are provided by Justen Peters, a member of the Syilx community.

“I feel a deep connection to these hills, to these rivers, to these lakes... I’m excited and proud to share pieces of my culture with students, newcomers to Canada, or anyone willing to listen.”

Okanagan College regional dean Jane Lister said the donation “has the potential to allow hundreds of local children to learn traditional Syilx knowledge and develop a new understanding of and appreciation for the land.”

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