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Nootka rose honours lives lost during pandemic

Jun 29, 2021 | News & Announcements

Over the last year, many of us have lost loved ones and neighbours. Regardless of whether the cause of death was COVID-19, an overdose or any other cause, losses during this time have been especially hard because we haven’t been able to gather or travel to participate in funerals, or give each other hugs.

In honour of those who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, RISE Community Health Centre and Community Development—both departments of Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH)—organized a planting ceremony at the Norquay Food Forest (2732 Horley Street) on May 3, 2021.

The ceremony was led by Elder Eugene Harry (XiQuelem). Together, we planted a Nootka rose.

The memorial Nootka rose is accessible to all. It is a place to honour, find solace, and reconnect to the land. We encourage you to visit the site, with safety in mind, to pay your respects in whatever way is meaningful to you. Whether that means weeding around the rose bush, leaving behind a special stone or feather, or even to simply sit on a bench and enjoy the birds.

About the Nootka rose

The Nootka rose, also known as the wild rose, was chosen for the planting ceremony to symbolize the heart medicine that many of us need during this pandemic.

The Nootka rose is native to the Pacific Northwest coast. As a perennial, multi-stemmed shrub that spreads to form patches by underground shoots, the plant speaks to the interconnectedness that we have with each other. We
chose a plant to represent the medicines that we need today and what we are seeding to nurture as medicines for
future generations.

From all walks of life, we are connected by the pandemic. As the years come and as this rose plant gets established, we chose a plant we can share shoots with so that community members can keep sharing in the heart medicine.

The Nootka rose is low maintenance, and prefers full to part sun and moist soil, but is resilient in tolerating a variety of growing conditions. In the wild, the Nootka rose is common along forest edges, sunny fields, hedgerows and moist ditches. When grown in, the bush stands tall and full of heart-shaped petals. A reminder to open our hearts and that we always have a plant relation we can lean on.

The Nootka rose bush offers a diverse range of healing properties. The roots, leaves, flowers and fruits of the plant are edible. In the spring, you can harvest the leaves, roots, and stems. The flowers can be harvested throughout the summer and the fruit after the first frost.

The scent of the rose calms the senses as well as the skin. Both the petals and hips are often used in many therapeutic cosmetic preparations and contain volatile oils that are soothing and uplifting and aid to relieve states of depression and broken-heartedness. The fruits of the rose are fleshy red hips that are pear shaped. Rosehips are gathered in the autumn after the first frost and are generally dried for use as a tea, jam and jellies. The hips are high in vitamin C and a good medicine to help us to stay healthy in the winter, fight off colds and flus, keep regular and absorb our iron intake.

The Nootka rose is a reminder to take care of our wholistic wellness and those around us.

The original planting ceremony was livestreamed online. To view the event, visit CNH on Facebook. We also encourage our community to support the newly planted Nootka rose by watering the soil around the roots.

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