When we first started our residency at the Clinton Park Fieldhouse, we were familiar with the park space in relation to its amenities and traffic flow, but we were not intimately connected to the natural inhabitants that fundamentally make up this space. Our community work brings us to pay attention to the needs of the residents, but now we are also bringing our focus to the plants and animals that we co-exist with and to those who existed here long before the built world has. Bringing back a connection to the land is essential to our vision of P’ipa:m Lelum (Frog House).
In Indigenous culture, the call of the frog in the springtime is a call to action. It signifies that the dormancy of winter is ending and the time for work is beginning anew. Our work aims to motivate the community to take action and make the changes they want to see in themselves and the community.
Over the past 3 years, the Clinton Park Fieldhouse has been transformed into an intercultural hub where Indigenous plant workshops, decolonizing dialogues and art programs are held. All of which are guided by a land-based approach that invites us to explore our personal and societal connections to living on these unceded territories. We have literally uprooted non-native shrubs and replaced them with an Indigenous garden consisting only of native plants that thrived here prior to colonization. The P’ipa:m Lelum garden is now a space where neighbours find healing, knowledge and connection. It has also become a space where newcomers learn the truth about Canadian history and Indigenous people and connect more deeply with the land they’ve settled on.
Working with a land-based approach has also meant connecting people through creating art with natural materials. People from different cultural backgrounds gather to make drums and weave cedar under the guidance of Indigenous knowledge keepers. For those Indigenous community members who are seeking more connection with their own culture, there is a welcoming All Nations Drum Circle where they can learn traditional songs and opportunities to sit with the elders. There is also a lending library with books from various Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors that’s available to the public. Our offerings are intentionally diverse and low-barrier.
If you ask me what P’ipa:m Lelum is all about, I would say essentially it is a space of reflection, a space to slow down and reassess how you are living your life or just to take a breath. It is a place for knowledge seekers, change makers, plant lovers and artists. When you see this frog symbol, think about what actions you are being called to and be motivated to start the work.
Quotes from participants:
“This is exactly what we should be doing, just like the old days, sitting, crafting and having tea and just being together..It’s healing to have this space.” (Art in the Park program)
“I’ve been through a lot in this space: workshops, difficult dialogues, a-ha moments about decolonizing work etc. I’m excited to have it back.”
Written by Gloria Tsui
October 18, 2021
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