In conjunction with the National Healing Forest initiative the centre is now embarking on an expansion called, “The Trail of Song”. The National Healing Forest involves inviting communities, citizens and institutions to set aside land for the development of Healing Forests where survivors and families of the Residential School legacy and murdered and missing Indigenous women, as well as all Canadians, can come together to heal, do ceremony, reflect, talk or meditate. Within the Healing Forest, all individuals, including survivors and their families, can share and better understand the legacy of the residential school system and move forward in a positive way.
The Trail of Song represents fifteen meditation sites along one kilometer of meandering forested trail. Each meditation site consists of a prayer cairn which displays a work of poetry, prayer, story or song from a visiting artist. The trail represents a gallery for writers to display their work. Thirty visiting writers will be featured during different times over the course of the year. Each will be challenged with writing about the themes of nature and healing. Out of the thirty visiting artists 10 to 15 will be Indigenous.
Featured along the trail system are 15 stone cairns representing each province and territory. There will also be a cairn for Indigenous Peoples and the Earth In total these cairns contain a total of 150,000 stones one for each child who suffered in a residential school. Out of each cairn rises a collection of prayer sticks; there are 6000 prayer sticks representing the over 6000 children who died while in care in the residential school system.
At the entrance to the Trail of Song is a kiosk with a gallery that explains the traumatic legacy created by residential schools. From here visitors are asked to collect a prayer stone and place it on a cairn in memory of the victims and survivors of residential schools.
A gallery for the Trail of Song with the visiting written works are featured online and within video productions. All of this will be highlighting the connection to the Healing Forest initiative.
The Trail of Song serves as an event platform in the trees for guest speakers, workshops, healing sessions and cross cultural understanding all in an effort to assist healing for any Canadian individual or group, Indigenous, or non-Indigenous.
Phase One of the Trail of Song will be complete in November 2022 and will include volunteer work events that will promote the project and the National Healing Forest initiative.
A National Healing Forest Project at the Wildcraft Forest in British Columbia
The Wildcraft Forest is located on the eastern edge of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and is home to one of Canada’s first sculpture trails, which celebrates environmental art. This artist run centre has been operating non-stop since 1981 and has been home to the Wildcraft Forest School for over a decade. The school has become renowned for teaching unique forms of environmental education, forest therapy and stewardship.