by Heather Wilberforce, with Catherine Tammaro
Have you ever wondered about the sign that stands inside the Winchester School Children’s Garden? It was designed with Green Thumbs Growing Kids by the amazing Wyandot artist, Catherine Tammaro; Spotted Turtle Clan (catherinetammaro.com) and painted by the youth working with Green Thumbs!
Let your eyes wander across the images on the sign. What do you see?
Based on the world view of many Indigenous folk from different places on “Turtle Island” the Turtle at the centre here, symbolises Mother Earth and is a deeply regarded Indigenous symbol which can mean many things in Indigenous oral teachings.
In the centre of Turtle’s back is one of the many medicine wheels representing the four sacred directions - or the “All-ness of Everything” as Catherine said when we spoke. Tobacco, Sage, Sweetgrass, and Cedar all have spiritual and medicinal properties. These are the 4 sacred medicines. In the upper left is Elder Brother Sun who provides life and heat for all growing things and in the lower right is Grandmother Moon watching over all women identified people and the movement of the world’s waters and behind it all, clouds, symbolising change. Below image: Catherine and helpers painting sign in 2018.
And at the centre of the wheel is the feather representing Eagle’s clear vision, prayer, Indigenous Sovereignty and much more. Here, it is representing the individual, where everything is unified; clans, communities and lifeways. This sign watches over and protects the Children’s Garden and helps to guide our stewardship of this land.
Green Thumbs Growing Kids (GTGK) is a local charity actively creating and managing school food gardens in order to connect children to food and their environment. Gardens at Sprucecourt Jr. PS, Winchester Jr. & Sr. PS and Rose Avenue PS are managed by Green Thumbs and we support gardening projects at Nelson Mandela Park PS. No funding is received from the Toronto District School Board so GTGK depends on support from members of the community and friends of the gardens.