The University of New Brunswick has a new garden outside Marshall d'Avray Hall, which features species traditionally used for food, medicine, aromatherapy and ceremonies by First Nations people. 

Children from First Nations communities across the province planted the medicine wheel garden — which includes plants such as bloodroot, sweetgrass and bush honeysuckle — at UNB's Mi'kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre.

"All of these plant species here are local to New Brunswick, they're native, they are very sustainable, and they can last through our winters and our hot summers," said Danielle Smith, the sustainability coordinator at UNB.

Medicine Wheel Garden

Imelda Perley said children were asked to help so they could learn more about their roots. (Philip Drost/CBC News)

"The project is part of a larger initiative to introduce sustainability on campus through improving the grounds and introducing native plants and making it more friendly to wildlife species," said Smith.

Elders came to watch the children do the planting. Imelda Perley, the elder in residence at the university, said children were asked to help so they could learn more about their roots. 

"The children have to know these stories," said Perley. "Watching the elders watch the children planting a garden in their honour, it's very symbolic."

Perley says the garden is about more than just helpful herbs, referring to the recent work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

medicine wheel garden

Imelda Perley places a bowl of water in the middle of the garden, which will be the future location of a statue of a salmon made by students at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. (Philip Drost/CBC News)

"You wish that hope grows. You want forgiveness, you want forgiveness to grow," said Perley.

"You want the traditional medicines that are ceremonial, so that way they'll know that there is growth happening here on campus that's acknowledging their passage from the residential schools to society today, and leave the pain behind if they can."

A statue of a salmon, made by students from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, will be placed in the middle of the garden to symbolize survivors of the residential school system coming home.