The Spirit Garden project which will open at Nathan Phillips Square in 2024. The 19,250 square foot Indigenous cultural space will honour our Residential School Survivors and our cultural traditions.
The project responds in part to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Call to Action 82, for governments to commission and install a Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour residential school survivors, and all the children lost to their families and communities. Nathan Phillips Square was selected as a publicly accessible, highly visible location to celebrate the resilience of survivors and their families with space for teaching, learning, sharing and healing. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, this transformation integrates Indigenous culture, symbols and plantings within Canada’s largest urban centre. With pedestrian linkages to City Hall, Osgoode Hall, and Queen Street West, the site is positioned to impact millions of visitors.
This initiative develops the south-west quadrant of Nathan Phillips Square into a public space shaped by Indigenous peoples to provide education and build relations with the larger Toronto community. At the centre of the Spirit Garden is a Turtle sculpture designed by an Anishinaabe artist, which identifies the names of the 17 residential schools that once operated in Ontario. The design of the Spirit Garden revolves around Turtle Island, and offers dedicated places for contemplation, celebration and ceremonies — open, inclusive and welcoming to all. The fully accessible site includes a reflecting pond, a Two Row Wampum walkway, a Voyageur canoe, an Inukshuk, and a timber-frame Teaching Lodge. In support of the Toronto Green Standard, the sustainable design solution utilizes on-site energy, incorporates recyclable building materials, and integrates green space including the Three Sisters garden, a healing space with Indigenous landscaping.