As part of its commitment to the process of Truth and Reconciliation, one of the country’s leading theological schools, Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, will begin planning an Indigenous Garden on its campus thanks to The Seeds of Hope grant from The United Church of Canada Foundation. The garden will be created in collaboration with Indigenous communities and will be connected to the school’s academic curriculum through experiential learning, focusing on Indigenous cultures and our relationship to the land.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action called for schools of Theology to “develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right.”
“The Indigenous Garden at Emmanuel College is one way that we will contribute to reconciliation and right relations while deepening the experiential learning. At Emmanuel, we equip students to serve as ministers in churches, spiritual care providers in their Buddhist, Muslim, and other religious communities, chaplains in medical, military, penitentiary service as well as providing mental health supports as counsellors and spiritually integrated psychotherapists in various communities. Some of our students become theological educators, researchers and academic leaders. This type of learning from the land is so important in all these areas and to students and the people that they will serve and lead,” says Rev. Dr. HyeRan Kim-Cragg, principal of Emmanuel College.
The new garden will surround the College’s Neo-Gothic style building at Queen’s Park and Charles Street on Victoria University’s campus. It will be ecologically sustainable with plans to grow Indigenous plants, as well as vegetables and wildflowers. The garden is a multi-year project and as capital plans for Victoria University’s campus evolve, so will the garden.
"This is not simply another garden. Our Indigenous Garden is a tangible realization of our commitment to build relationships between and among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. As this garden grows, it will remind us that the work toward truth and reconciliation changes in relationship with our seasons, environment, and each other. It will be a visible reminder that we all belong here - students, staff, librarians, faculty and alumni. This garden's addition to our beautiful campus will be a place to connect, learn and reflect,” says Dr. Rhonda McEwen, president and vice-chancellor of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.
About Emmanuel College
Emmanuel College was established in 1928, a few years after the formation of The United Church of Canada in 1925. Its intention was to continue the tradition of theological education established earlier by Canadian Methodists and Presbyterians who founded Victoria University. Rooted in the ecumenical heritage of the United Church of Canada, shaped by its context in Victoria University and in relationship with Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and other religious communities, Emmanuel College equips leaders and scholars for rigorous theological inquiry and for inclusive practices of justice and care, contextual analysis, creative activity, and interfaith engagement.
Emmanuel College is the largest theological school associated with the United Church of Canada, one of seven federated theological colleges within the Toronto School of Theology, which is part of the University of Toronto, and a fully accredited member of the Association of Theological Schools.
About Victoria University in The University of Toronto
Victoria University, federated with the University of Toronto, was founded in 1836 and is one of the oldest universities in Canada. As a recognized leader in undergraduate education in the arts and sciences and in graduate education in theology, Victoria University creates an environment where students discover how to match their distinctive talents to some of the world's most pressing issues. It is home to two outstanding colleges. Victoria College—with its small class sizes, its distinctive first-year programs, and its exceptional students—is recognized as one of the most rewarding places in Canada to pursue an undergraduate education. Emmanuel College prepares students from many faiths and backgrounds for leadership roles in religious contexts. The iconic campus is located on the east side of Queen’s Park, south of Bloor Street, in Toronto.
The Seeds of Hope granting program, part of The United Church of Canada Foundation, supports innovative, unique, and much-needed projects which enable congregations and other United Church-affiliated individuals and organizations to live out the New Creed’s call to seek justice, live with respect in creation and love and serve others. For more information, please visit the Foundation’s website: unitedchurchfoundation.ca.
Sally Szuster, Director, Communications
Victoria University in the University of Toronto