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NSCAD Winter Seed Sowing workshop aims to heal, decolonize public spaces

The Winter Seed Sowing workshop not only connects participants with nature but also highlights the importance of counter-memorializing sites of difficult histories

People standing in a circle on some grass

Credit: Cuba Adekayode Fisk

As we’re in the depths of winter semester, the NSCAD Treaty Space Gallery is gearing up for a unique outdoor event that’s all about growth and renewal — the Winter Seed Sowing workshop.

Set to take place on Thursday, Jan. 25, the workshop is the second part of the Seeding and Beading initiative, following the Seed Harvesting and Difficult Histories Walk event from last October. According to Exhibitions Coordinator Natalie Laurin, the workshop will not only be a chance for participants to connect with nature, but also a learning experience about honouring the land through Indigenous-centred practices.

“We’re focused on participation from youth, specifically urban Indigenous youth, and Indigenous methodologies tied to land-based ancestral knowledge here in Mi’kma’ki,” she says. “There’s often a barrier between access to plant medicines while living in the city. So, we’re hoping to promote the understanding of our relationships and responsibilities to the land that exist, even when we are living in a city.”

The initiative was created in collaboration with Sydney Wreaks, a student in the Master of Arts in Art Education program (MAED), who wanted to explore land stewardship from a historical perspective.

“I’m inspired by land stewardship, how we care for the land, and the experiences that have purposefully not been considered or included when it comes to how we learn about history,” says Wreaks. “I’m placing an importance on learning about our difficult histories, as a way to challenge the colonial amnesia tied to how we are taught history.”


The Winter Seed Sowing workshop is sponsored by Indigenous Youth Roots, as part of their Urban Parks Funding stream. The youth-led nonprofit organization donated $7,500, allowing for the purchase of several seeds from Cultural Seeds — an Indigenous woman-owned seed company — and other materials for the event.  

The Treaty Space Gallery also collaborated with the Dalhousie Pollinator Garden during the Seed Harvesting and Difficult Histories Walk, giving participants the opportunity to harvest seeds from local perennials in the garden.

“A lot of those seeds are what are going to be planted at the Seed Sowing workshop,” says Laurin. “Plants like aster, goldenrod, and other flowering perennials. We also have other herbs that are really good for this winter seed sowing technique, like lemon balm, sage, and sweet grass; traditional medicines like tobacco, and other fun herbs that you can pick and use in your cooking like oregano and thyme.”

In addition to benefitting plant pollinators like bees, organizers of the event see this workshop as a unique way to counter-memorialize sites of difficult histories and foster discussion about the decolonization of public spaces.

“It’s a beautiful way to transform a site and physical space,” says Laurin. “Having plants and plant medicines in this space that has a difficult history, and having a garden that’s accessible and people can contribute to is a really beautiful way to transform negative feelings in a space and having something that’s positive instead.”

For Wreaks, the workshops — which are part of their MAED thesis — is a medium for collective learning about these sites and how we relate to them in modern day.

“The hope is to plant a medicine garden onto a site of difficult history as a way to physically recognize the site, but also to transform how we engage with that site,” says Wreaks. “We want to transform our relationship to sites that embody difficult and painful colonial history, as well as facilitate the learning of history that does not idealize the euro-centric perspective.”


The Winter Seed Sowing workshop will occur on Thursday (Jan. 25) from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Peace and Friendship Park, located at 1170 Hollis St. All necessary materials for the workshop will be provided, and the event is free for members of the public to attend.

Organizers encourage participants to dress appropriately for the weather, and for those with accessibility needs, accommodations can be arranged by notifying the organizers through the sign-up sheet.

Laurin would like to see this workshop grow into something that would benefit the NSCAD community.

“Once we have our foot in the door and get these plants in the ground, hopefully, we could see this grow into maybe a larger community garden or partnering with other local community gardens,” she says.

Laurin also encourages students to participate in the event as a chance to connect with other emerging and BIPOC artists.

“By going to events like this, you can find people that share your interests and have similar values as you, but you’re not always going to find them in your class,” she says. “So, come out here, make a friend and enjoy this experience with us.”

For more information about the Winter Seed Sowing workshop, the Treaty Space Gallery and other events, visit their website or email