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Uncovering Indigenous knowledge in nature – The Concordian

November 27, 2018

Two students explore the history of Montreal’s First Nations in the Botanical Garden
The Olympic Stadium looms in the background as snow slowly falls on The First Nations Garden. Part of the Montreal Botanical Garden, the installation was founded in 2001 with the help of Innu singer Florent Vollant. While the rest of Montreal resembles any other North American metropolis, the garden is one of the few spaces in the city that still honours its Indigenous history. However, the relationship between Indigenous knowledge and urban spaces is much more complex than a single spot in the middle of the city.

According to the Espace pour la vie Montréal website, the garden is intended to represent the knowledge of Montreal First Nations. “Native people were ecologists before the term was ever coined,” the website reads. “Over time, they acquired an intimate knowledge of nature, knowing exactly where in its natural habitat to find a particular plant to meet a specific need.” This knowledge has been suppressed by settlers’s hegemonic education system that values European traditions and actively subordinates Indigenous knowledge in the process. This settler legacy is reflected in the way the city is designed; there is a lack of visual indication that Montreal is on unceded land.

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