What is a Shakespeare Garden and why did we plant a Shakespeare Reconciliation garden here?

A Shakespeare garden typically contains plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays, and may include a physic or medicinal garden. It honours the works of Shakespeare. 

Shakespeare gardens are inspired by the creativity, reflectiveness, and thoughtfulness that people have found in Shakespeare’s works over time.  The stories in these plays (orally performed and with roots in oral tradition) at best may offer a way into reflection on conflict, passions, love, anger, confusion, justice, and relationships (among humans and beyond).

At UFV’s former campus in Chilliwack on Yale Road, an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty from Theatre, Agriculture, and Health Sciences, along with community volunteers known as the Friends of the Theatre, raised funds, designed, and created a beautiful and beloved Shakespeare garden. Along with groundskeeping staff, they also watered and cared for the garden. When UFV moved its campus to its current location at Canada Education Park, the former garden was abandoned. The university promised to move the former garden, and at the time, this was not done. Our garden revives and reimagines the former garden as an act of reconciliation for the loss of the former garden. 

The garden is located in Stó:lō Temexw, the territory of the Stó:lō Peoples. We are grateful to the Elders and knowledge-keepers who have preserved the land, the plants, and the stories.

Reflecting Indigenous perspectives on campus

Our new garden at CEP is the result of two interdisciplinary studies classes whose members listened to the stories of the former garden and to the experiences and knowledge of Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers. We thought hard about what it means to have living plants originally from England rooted in Stó:lō Temexw. Elder Mary Gutierrez reminded our class that when you go to the forest and attend to the trees, you feel good.  We hope this garden also offers a good feeling to visitors. Featuring plants native to Europe, Asia, and Turtle Island, the garden also provides an opportunity to connect with Halq’emeylem language and Stó:lō perspectives on the land. It is an opportunity to see plants as relatives and teachers.  

The garden provides an opportunity to reflect on reconciliation, and it is itself a model of reconciliation. UFV’s Senior Advisor on Indigenous Affairs, Shirley Hardman, says that we make reconciliation every day. We know how to recognize that something was wrong, stop, apologize, and make amends. We know how to care for our relationships.

With this garden we’ve aimed to create a space that lifts up both European and Stó:lō storytelling.  We’ve done our best to honour Shakespeare, and honour Indigenous knowledge.  We hope the garden holds traces of all that has been shared with us.  We hope it will be a peaceful, contemplative, learning space, a space to nibble on berries, learn about and care for plants, tell stories, and start conversations. 

We are happy to be one of three campus community and teaching gardens.  Check out the Indigenous Teaching Garden, a project of UFV Indigenous, at the Abbotsford campus, and the Pollinator Garden behind Lá:lem te Baker, organized by UFV Sustainability, also at the Abbotsford campus.

Honouring the memory of children who died in the residential schools

As a living space that focuses on healing, memory, and story, the garden features many orange flowers in recognition of the bodies of children found in unmarked graves in the summer on 2021, beginning in late May on the Kamloops residential school site.  The orange flowers expand the original design of the garden to line the walkway/entrance into the CEP.   These are perennial flowers that provide an opportunity to reflect and remember.