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‘An important message’: Heart garden planted at RCMP detachment in Whitehorse

The ‘healing heart garden’ symbolizes the start of a working relationship between the police Kwanlin Dün First Nation and theTa’an Kwäch’än Council, says Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s acting chief.

A heart garden was unveiled Tuesday in front of the RCMP detachment in Whitehorse. (George Maratos/CBC)

A bed of flowers in the shape of heart has been planted in front of the RCMP detachment in Whitehorse.

The heart garden was unveiled on Tuesday. Its red and pink blooms symbolize the start of a working relationship between the police and the two area First Nations: Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, said Jessie Dawson, acting chief of Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

“It’s an important message,” she said. “This is a gesture of something that we have to do together, because no one person can do it alone.”

The heart garden is a collaborative effort by the police and the two First Nations.

Dawson said a project like this garden would not have been a reality 20, or even 10, years ago.

“This is something that you wouldn’t see in the past, with the history of First Nations and the RCMP,” she said. “The RCMP really want to work with the First Nations on what our experiences were, and they’re learning too. We all have to learn together.”

Jessie Dawson, acting chief of Kwanlin Dün First Nation, says the garden symbolizes the start of a working relationship with the RCMP. (George Maratos/CBC)

The heart garden grew out of a desire to do better, said RCMP Sgt. Calista Macleod. “How do we show that we are wanting to impart compassion and respect?” 

A garden is something that needs nurturing, she said. 

Much like a relationship.

They chose to make the heart garden out of petunias because the flowers “grow really well. I think that they are a little bit forgiving,” said McLeod. 

To her, the garden represents the RCMP’s efforts to repair relations with the two First Nations.

McLeod hopes the floral heart encourages people who have gone through a traumatic experience to come to police. She wants them to expect that they will be treated with respect.

The heart garden “is all about repairing the harm, repairing relationships and demonstrating compassion,” said McLeod.

“I mean, it’s pretty interesting to have a heart in front of a police station.”

The floral garden is a collaborative effort by the the RCMP, Kwanlin Dün First Nation and theTa’an Kwäch’än Council. (George Maratos/CBC)

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