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Indigenous-Asian garden opens in Montreal’s Chinatown

The medicinal wheel at the Kahéhtaien Jardin Lumb in Montreal, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Matilda Cerone / Global News

A new community garden was inaugurated in Montreal’s Chinatown. A first of its kind in Quebec, the Kahéhtaien Jardin Lumb hosts both Asian and Indigenous plants and aims to connect different communities.

“These are two ancient cultures coming together,” explained Leslie Cheung, board of directors president of the Montreal Chinatown Round Table.

The initiative was born out of a partnership between the Chinatown Round Table and Projets Autochtones du Quebec.

One of the garden’s purposes is to offer a space to Chinatown residents and unhoused people in the area to meet each other. This comes at a time where tensions between the two groups are rising. The garden would offer another way for to learn about each other.

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“I think it’s really important for the Chinese community and for all communities to embrace the fact that we are on Indigenous lands,” said Janet Lumb, the activist and artist after whom the garden is named.

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In the centre of the garden is a medicine wheel, a symbol shared by several Indigenous peoples, representing the different elements, seasons, plants, and other aspects of life.

Activists also want the project to bring together different generations.

“The older generation is getting mad at us,” claimed Lumb. “They say, ‘You don’t put that vegetable with that,’ because they come from farmer history.”

The garden also offers some respite to residents.

“We really think a green space is needed,” said Cheung. “To lessen the heat island effect of this neighbourhood, because we are in a concrete jungle down here.”

The garden will be tended to daily by volunteers, who will get to learn, share their knowledge and bring some food home.

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