New Healing Forests projects will promote learning and reconciliation

TORONTO | Traditional territory of many nations – including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples – and now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples — Canada’s national network of Healing Forests is expanding to include an additional 16 newly proposed Healing Forests, the National Healing Forests Initiative (NHFI) and David Suzuki Foundation announced today.

Healing Forests are green spaces dedicated to honouring residential school victims and survivors, their families and communities, and to promoting learning and reconciliation.

“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day to reflect, but it’s also a day to act,” said Patricia Stirbys, Saulteaux Cree from Saskatchewan (Cowessess First Nation), an Indigenous relations specialist and NHFI co-founder. “Every person needs to take up the challenge of reconciliation. That’s why we wanted to grow the Healing Forests network, to help people begin their journey toward understanding and healing.”

Since launching in 2015, the National Healing Forests Initiative’s network included 10 Healing Forests, which are quiet, natural spaces that provide an immersive educational experience, combining reconciliation and healing into one. This spring, the David Suzuki Foundation announced it would provide small grants to groups proposing new Healing Forests. From 59 applicants, 16 projects were selected.

“The beautiful thing about Healing Forests is that they can be any size and location,” said Jode Roberts, Manager, Rewilding Communities, at the David Suzuki Foundation. “On the grounds of a school or church. On private or public land. Wild, rural or urban. What’s important is that they bring people together to learn about this country’s past, spend time in nature, and work toward reconciliation.”

The local organizers receiving funding in 2022 include a hospital, two elementary schools and a high school, a community farm, municipal parks and wilderness trails, and several First Nations. They’re located across Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan. All Healing Forests are developed through meaningful relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.

For example, in Leslieville, Alberta, a local Cree Elder, along with the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, Seaborn Native Seeds and Clearwater County are coming together to create a healing forest on 4.5 hectares of private, undeveloped meadow and forest nestled in a mixed wood forest valley along the Blueberry Creek.

In Ontario, the Ajax Pickering Hospital is creating a healing garden on its grounds in partnership with Miinikaan Innovation & Design, the Ajax Pickering Hospital Foundation, a local Elder, the Town of Ajax, and the non-profit organization We Grow Foods. It will include native trees and shrubs, a wildflower meadow and circular raised-bed vegetable garden, and provide a tranquil space for patients, visitors and staff to reflect and heal.

“Reconciliation is a long journey, but it starts with each of us,” said NHFI co-founder Peter Croal. “Healing Forests can be a pathway to beginning that journey, literally. We look forward to seeing the Healing Forests flourish and to expanding the network even more next year.”

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The Healing Forests projects receiving support from the David Suzuki Foundation in 2022 include:

  • Ajax Pickering Hospital Healing Garden, Ajax, Ont.
  • Birch Path Healing Forest, Gloucester, Ont.
  • Central Manitoulin Healing Forest, Mindemoya, Ont.
  • Cheam First Nation Healing Forest, Rosedale, B.C.
  • Eagle Lake Farabout Peninsula Healing Forest, Farabout Peninsula, Ont.
  • The Friendship Trail Healing Forest, St Adolphe, Man.
  • ila’latl Healing Forest, Whycocomagh, N.S.
  • īnimin sīpīsis – Blueberry Creek Healing Forest, Leslieville, Alta.
  • Kinnickinnick Healing Forest, Sechelt, B.C.
  • Kinoo wiiyaa minoyaa Healing Forest, M’Chigeeng, Ont.
  • Navan Healing Forest, Ottawa, Ont.
  • Silver Tip to Wedzin Bin Trail Project, Gidimt’en Checkpoint, B.C.
  • Trail of Song Healing Forest, Lumby, B.C.
  • ts’ukw’um Healing Forest, Sechelt, B.C.
  • Waupoos Healing Forest, Prince Edward County, Ont.
  • Westminster United Healing Forest, Regina, Sask.

For more information, please contact:

Stefanie Carmichael,, 437-221-4692

The David Suzuki Foundation ( | @DavidSuzukiFdn) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, founded in 1990. We operate in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. We collaborate with all people in Canada, including First Nations leadership and communities, governments, businesses and individuals to find solutions to create a sustainable Canada through scientific research, traditional ecological knowledge, communications and public engagement, and innovative policy and legal solutions. Our mission is to protect nature’s diversity and the well-being of all life, now and for the future.

The National Healing Forests Initiative ( aims to create a network of forests and green spaces across Canada where Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can come together in the spirit of reconciliation to heal, reflect, meditate, talk, share, and build respect and understanding as a result of the Residential School legacy and the findings of the National Truth and Reconciliation report.