Decrease font size Reset font size Increase font size
Environmental and Sustainability Education

Indigenous Garden

Indigenous Education Garden

This garden aims to reflect and embody the principles of Indigenous Education, a key initiative at OISE, by symbolizing the Seven Grandfather teachings of Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth.  The plants reference to local Indigenous traditions and history, drawing on Indigenous plant species from the traditional territories of the Mississauga and the Onkwehonwe peoples.  Information about the sacred medicines has been drawn from the teachings of one of OISE's traditional teachers, Jacque Lavalley, as well as from information on Medicine Wheel Gardens from First Nations University.

Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

Eastern White Cedar has traditional medicinal (e.g., vitamin C), spiritual (smudging ceremonies), and practical uses. Gi-shee-kan-dug (cedar) can be used to purify the body and protect from evil.1 In the Indigenous Education garden, it serves as a visual and metaphorical pillar showing strength and resilience.

Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)

Sage is one of the four sacred medicines and has been used traditionally in smudging ceremonies and for medicinal purposes as a purifier.2 Mush-ko-day-wushk (Sage) is spiritually imporant, and also attracts pollinators, symbolizing the interconnectedness of natural systems on Earth.

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Columbine is a low maintenance wildflower native to Ontario. Its brightly coloured flowers attract hummingbirds and illustrate the interconnectedness of natural systems.

Tobacco (Nicotiana gluaca)

While not native to Ontario, tobacco is one of the four sacred medicines used for smudging, in prayers, and ceremonies. Smoke from Ah-say-ma (Tobacco) carries thoughts to the spirit world, and makes thinking visible when talking with the Creator.We've included it in the learning garden as an offering of thanks and respect to the Earth for its gift of life.

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)

A hardy green-gold plant, sweetgrass is one of the four sacred medicines. It is used for smudging, sacred ceremonies, and ritual cleansings. According to Anishinaabe teachings, We-skwu ma-shko-seh was the first plant to grow on Mother Earth, which is why the blades can be braided and symbolize hair.4

Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Milkweed has light pink flowers and contains a bitter white sap that protects it from predators. The sap also is essential nectar for many butterfly species, including monarchs.

Indigenous Garden Map


1. Benton-Banai, E. (1988). The Mishomis Book.University of Minnesota Press.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

Resources on Indigenous Education