The Indigenous Community & Healing Garden at the Ajax Pickering Hospital is a designated healing space for hospital staff, patients, volunteers and the surrounding community.

As visitors make their way into the garden, both sides of the entryway are surrounded by planting beds featuring perennials and sacred medicines. To continue promoting peace, healing, stress relief and psychological comfort, benches are placed to either side to welcome visitors to sit, enjoy and observe the natural beauty of the space.

The center of the garden presents a large circle featuring seven demonstration beds. Seven raised planter boxes arch around the circle on a path, which leads you back to the center of the garden. This circular design honours the Indigenous teaching that everyone has a place in the community circle and their own unique contribution. The seven grandfather stones placed throughout the garden are a physical representation of the Grandfather Teachings, which serve as a code conduct to the Indigenous way of life.

Visitors can also discover various annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that are planted alongside seasonal fruits and vegetables, which will support local food security. The Three Sisters, corn, beans and squash help teach us that each plant shares a specific gift that assists the others in their growth.

Explore this page to learn more about the story behind the garden.

Land Acknowledgement

Mississauga of Scugog

We acknowledge that the land on which the garden in located is situated within the traditional and treaty territory of the Mississauga. More specifically, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation signatories of the Gunshot Treaty of 1788 and the Williams Treaty of 1923. This land is and will continue to be home to the Indigenous peoples. Let us acknowledge the mistakes and traumas of the past through authenticity and support truth and reconciliation. Let us engage and celebrate Indigenous communities by being leaders of action and acknowledging the United Nations' declaration of rights of Indigenous peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions' recommendations towards truth and reconciliation. Let us keep these principles close as we continue towards truth and reconciliation and as we move forward with kindness and respect as a community.

The Circle

the circle 

The garden emphasizes the circle as its central design element, inspired by Indigenous teachings. Visitors immediately encounter a large circular area dedicated to demonstrating Indigenous Agroecology through companion planting and wherever you are in the garden, you are led back into the centre of the circle.

These teachings illuminate that everybody has a place in the community circle and something to contribute. It is our responsibility to find out what our gifts are so that we can nurture them and share them with our family, loved ones and community. As the Indigenous people got older they became more valuable, because they had more significant life experience to teach their community and bring into the circle.

The seasons, the elements, the learning process, the growth cycles of plants, the directions on the Medicine Wheel, the stages of our lives; all of these are circular and cyclical.

Click here to see the original garden site plan.

3 Sisters

3 sisters

Photo courtesy of Miinikaan Innovation and Design


The Three Sisters, Corn, Beans and Squash, are healthier and produce more food when they’re grown together. Each Sister provides a gift to the other Sisters to help her grow to her full potential. When grown together the Three Sisters actually revitalize the soil.

Historically, the Three Sisters fed thousands of people in different communities in this region of Ontario and what is now Quebec. Many of the Longhouse (Haudenosaunee) people practiced this type of farming.

7 Sisters; 7 Directions; 7 Clans; 7 Grandfather Teachings

Indigenous garden 7 sisters

Photo courtesy of Miinikaan Innovation and Design


Visitors to the garden will find seven mounds in the demonstration garden circle, seven raised bed planters, and seven grandfather stones placed throughout. This design reflects on the significance of ‘seven’ within Indigenous teachings.

  • 7 Sisters - There are four other Indigenous crops that, when planted among the Three Sisters, complement and enhance their reciprocity. The Seven Sisters are corn, beans, squash, strawberries, sunchokes, sunflowers, and ground cherries.
  • 7 Directions - There are Seven Sacred Directions within the circular Ojibwe Medicine Wheel: North, South, East, West, Above, Centre, and Below. The medicine wheel reminds us of many things including the need for balance in the world and within ourselves. Elder Lillian Pitawanakwat teaches us that when we honour this knowledge, we honour our ancestors.
  • 7 Clans – Originally, there were seven Anishinaabe clans; Marten, Deer, Fish, Bear, Crane, Loon, and Thunderbird. Anishinaabe knowledge keeper Jim Dumont educates about how the Clan System is spiritually important, it created a social structure, and served as a Great Law, and a structure of governance.
  • 7 Grandfather Teachings - The Seven Grandfathers are Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth, though there are many variations in different cultures and traditions. The Grandfather Teachings are like a code of conduct and make the foundation for an Indigenous way of life.

The return and relearning of traditional teachings is a step towards healing our relationship to the land and beginning to heal Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Agroecology & Plant List


Photo courtesy of Miinikaan Innovation and Design


The garden is home to a variety of plant-life, purposefully selected to reflect Indigenous Agroecology practices.

Most people aren’t aware of what Indigenous food systems are because colonization wiped out that knowledge. The bounty of foods cultivated by First Nations across Turtle Island (North America) was mistakenly and ignorantly perceived by settlers as a gift of untouched nature, erasing the significance of Indigenous Agroecology.

The abundance of forest foods and medicines and the health of the forest ecosystems are a result of long-standing and sophisticated Indigenous Agroecology practices. These practices revitalize the soil and honour the reciprocal relationship with the land.

Below are lists of the plants that can be found in the garden.


Perennial Plants, Shrubs and Trees

Prairie Smoke

Geum triflorum


Calendula officinalis

Purple coneflower

Echinacea purpurea, angustifolia

Blue vervain

Verbena hastata


Valeriana officinalis

Indian grass

Sorghastrum nutans


Eupatorium perfoliatum

White Prarie Sage

Artemisia Ludoviciana


Hierocholoe odorata

Wild savory

Calamintha Arkansana

Lemon balm

Melissa officinails

Virginia mountain mint

Pycnanthemum virginianum

Wild lupine

Lupines perennis

Pearly everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea

Obedient plant

Physostegia virginiana           

American chestnut

Castanea dentada

White cedar

Thuja occidentalis

American Hazelnut

Corylus Americana


Sambucus canadensis

American Pum

Prunus Americana

Saskatoon Berry

Amelanchier alnifolia

Common Juniper

Juniperus communis

Wild Black Currant

Ribes americanum


Vitis sp, Vitis riparia

Plants for Indigenous Agroecology Demonstration Mounds

Wild Strawberry

Fragaria vesca


Helianthum tuberosa


Zea mays


Curcubitae spp


Phaseoluls vulgaris

Tobacco (ceremonial)

Nicotiana rustica

Ground cherries

Physails pruinosa



The Meadow

The Meadow

Photo courtesy of Miinikaan Innovation and Design


The Meadow is a separate complimentary project located to the south of the Indigenous Community & Healing Garden. Sponsored by OPG, the meadow is an ecosystem in transition and home to a wide variety of predominantly native species, including some with medicinal values. It is designed to bloom throughout the season for pollinators.

The meadow was born of the Ajax Pickering Hospital’s helipad update, which required a small woodlot to be cut down. So as not to lose this beautiful naturally formed space, it has been reimagined as a naturalized meadow and transformed into an environment more indicative of the naturally occurring landscape of the region. 

Seeds from the site will be collected and shared with others throughout Ontario who are wishing to create or expand their own Indigenous landscapes. To learn more visit

About the Partners

The Indigenous Community & Healing Garden would not be possible without its many partners and friends.

The Town of Ajax and Ajax Pickering Hospital worked to bring this project to life with generous funds provided by the Ajax Mayor’s Gala.

Miinikaan Innovation and Design was engaged because of their expertise in Indigenous landscape and design. They were given full creative license to inspire and capture the hearts of patients, staff and the community with their garden design.

Elder Kim Wheatley has guided the Indigenous ceremonial plan for the Indigenous Garden while providing her wisdom and knowledge.

We Grow Food, a grassroots organization that promotes the importance of growing our own food, gave input during the design stage and helped with the planting.

The HMS Ajax and River Plate Veteran’s Association have contributed a tree to provide shade for the garden. This will be planted during the associations visit to Ajax.

Going forward, community volunteers will be needed to help continue the cultivation and maintenance of the garden. 

Indigenous Design and Representation

Indigenous Landscape

Photo courtesy of Miinikaan Innovation and Design


Indigenous representation has been an important component of the planning and building of the Indigenous Community & Healing Garden.

Miinikaan Innovation and Design used elements of Indigenous history and storytelling to inform the design and building of the garden. Miinikaan’s team of professional gardeners, project managers, and Indigenous consultants have vast experience encompassing rooftop and container gardens, on-the-ground gardens, pollinator and rain gardens, organic food cultivation, traditional teachings about Indigenous plants, and Indigenous Food Sovereignty.

Chef Johl Whiteduck, co-founder of Miinikaan, is Anishnawbe and Algonquin. He is also the owner of NishDish Marketeria & Catering, specializing in Anishnawbe cuisine, a public speaker on topics related to food sovereignty and social entrepreneurship, and has taught countless food demos and traditional food skills workshops.

Co-founder Lara Mrosovsky is a professional gardener, artist and author, specializing in rooftop gardens that produce food. Gardening has always been part of her family, from her parents to her Danish, British, Russian and Italian ancestors.

Meanwhile, Elder Kim Wheatley (Ojibwe Anishinaabe Grandmother from Shawanaga First Nation Reserve who carries the spirit name Head or Leader of the Fireflower) was first engaged in the Indigenous Community & Healing Garden in 2020 to present on the importance and significance of Indigenous gardens, the traditions, history and ceremonies. 

Since, she has been leading and guiding the Indigenous ceremonial plan for the Indigenous Garden while providing her wisdom and knowledge as we continue to develop the garden.

Food Security

We Grow Food

Photo Courtesy of We Grow Food


Community gardens are one way to support food security and provide access to local food. The Indigenous Community & Healing Garden will support the growing of herbs, fruits and vegetables which will be accessible for free to individuals and families.

We Grow Food, a grassroots organization, will support garden planting as well as training the volunteers on everything they need to know to have a successful garden.

We Grow Food promotes the importance of growing our own food and connecting community members to each other through sharing natural, fresh produce in an urban setting. Established in 2013, fresh produce from food gardens installed by We Grow Food impact almost 500 people a week.

They believe that everyone has a right to access fresh produce and that everyone’s voice, skill, ability or talent is important in full circle giving where everyone can give and receive with dignity.  

If you wish to volunteer in the garden contact Teresa at 905-683-2320 ext. 11501, or