Garden recognized by community

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Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

Wilfrid Laurier University was recently recognized for its improvements in energy efficiency and stormwater projects by winning the Residential Energy Efficiency Project’s Green Solutions community engagement award. Laurier was honoured for the Mino-Kummik Aboriginal Community Garden located at the Aboriginal Student Centre.

“It gives us exposure of what we’re doing, but it also helps us give back to the community and I think that’s really what was recognized in the award,” said Claire Bennett, manager of Laurier’s sustainability office.

REEP is a non-profit environmental organization that provides services, tools and programs to help people use energy wisely. It supports Waterloo’s RAIN program, which is a stormwater education and action program that the Aboriginal Student Centre began forming a relationship with in 2012.

“The Aboriginal Student Centre has implemented new technologies to tackle stormwater problems on their site and are sharing what they have learned with the community. Their leadership will inspire others to take action to protect our groundwater, rivers and lakes,” said Cheryl Evans, program manager of RAIN, in an e-mail.

Aboriginal Student Support coordinator Melissa Ireland initiated the relationship with RAIN when the centre began experiencing a stormwater issue that involved water running into the basement and eroding part of the property. They gave solutions on how to fix the problem,

“With them, it was a great partnership because they were actually able to provide some advice on the projects,” said Bennett.

The main features at the Aboriginal Student Centre are the RAIN Butterfly Gardens and an above ground cistern. The cistern captures water from the roof and is used for grounds maintenance water on campus.

“We will eventually run out of ground water and the next solution is to tap into the Great Lakes, which is a huge amount of cost because they would have put in pipes all the way into the Great Lakes,” said Bennett.

“Which is crazy. So Waterloo Region is really promoting having stormwater projects and managing stormwater from a variety of ways, from cisterns to biosoil to greywater harvesting and building, so we’re taking that very seriously as well.”

According to Ireland, the award is a representation of the centre’s relationship with RAIN.

“It demonstrates that we can all work together for a common goal and I think our recognition is very important because more people can find out about the project,” she said.

Ireland said the award will also represent the 10,000 Aboriginal people in the Waterloo-Wellington area and the 300 aboriginal students on campus.

“I think that we will show that we have an urban aboriginal presence on campus and through the community through this award, so I think that more recognition for Aboriginal Peoples will occur,” she said.

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