Canada 150 Fund grants to London’s First Indigenous-Inspired Playground

Jun. 22, 2017

Some may call it a playground, but C.C. Carrothers and London Community Foundation call it an outdoor learning space. On Friday, June 16th 2017, C.C. Carrothers Public School welcomed the city’s first Indigenous-inspired play space for kindergarten students with a special dedication ceremony.

The school’s mission is to create a culture where all students feel safe and able to celebrate differences. Most of these children do not have access to natural places to explore. Connecting with nature helps students recognize that the environment is valuable and needs to be protected. Lastly, by incorporating plant species important to First Nations people such as sage, cedar and sweetgrass, students will learn about, interact with and appreciate elements of First Nations culture.

Today we celebrate the opening of our Indigenous-inspired play space for our kindergarten students. It is a play area that will be used as a teaching space for all grades, to play and explore, a space that connects us to Mother Earth and represents the connectedness of all living things.” - Beth Zimmerman, Principal of C.C. Carrothers School

With C.C. Carrothers having 25% of their students identifying as First Nations, Inuit, and/or Metis, London Community Foundation could not be happier to be a part of this space - and seems the community is quite happy too. More than 200 community members joined the school at the all-day grand opening. The students participated in a circle dance and drumming ceremony, with the school choir also singing songs in celebration and thanks.

At the centre of their teaching space is the medicine wheel, representing many things to indigenous cultures. These include the four seasons, four medicines, and four life stages. The school walls have murals painted by Dean Logan, a First Nation Artist, illustrating the 7 Grandfather Teachings; Respect, Love, Truth, Honesty, Courage, Wisdom and Humility. Gardens surrounding the playground are culturally significant and considered important medicines to be cared for by the students.

One of the most inspiring aspects of this story is how C.C. Carrothers was able to leverage the Canada 150 Fund grant from London Community Foundation to secure even more funding for their school and community.

Words are not enough to express our sincere appreciation for what you’ve done for us. With the anchor of your $15,000 Canada 150 grant, we approached TD for a community grant – and were awarded an additional $16,100. Our kindergarten playground will be exceptional and unique in the province with its First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultural focus. And with the school facilitating these initiatives, the school board has agreed to tackle a much-needed redo of our main outdoor play area. The positive energy among our faculty and students is palpable! - Jeff Holborough, Vice Principal, C.C. Carrothers School

London Community Foundation is proud to stand with our Indigenous allies and friends. Our community, our nation, and our world is better with the leadership, wisdom, and guidance of Indigenous peoples. We are continuing to learn and be a witness to Canada’s dark past. With much to learn and understand about Indigenous peoples culture and history, it is important that we provide an authentic way for our community to incorporate Indigenous perspectives lives.

With support from the Canada 150 Fund at London Community Foundation, the new learning space will allow students to share their culture with peers and generations to come. We hope that by nurturing an understanding and respect of other cultures within schools, students will create a bridge that will help develop the same attitudes across our community.