In the fall of 2023, the Kahnawà:ke Environment Protection Office installed two pollinator gardens (each 20 m2) in the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke, near Montréal, Québec. Over 900 plugs of native wildflowers were installed, including Swamp Milkweed, Pearly Everlasting, and Purple Echinacea, and additional seeds were spread throughout the gardens, including Wild Bergamot, Goldenrod, and Common Milkweed.  

The Project

The Kahnawà:ke Environment Protection Office (KEPO) tested the soil to make sure it was suitable for the pollinator gardens, and a local landscaping company prepared the two sites. One garden was installed near the Golden Age Club of Kahnawà:ke, which is within walking distance of Kateri School, and the other was at the language immersion elementary school, Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa. Both sites were previously unused grassed areas near walking or cycling paths. Grade 3 and 4 students from the schools were engaged in planting the plugs and seeds for these new gardens.  

Lessons Learned 

The pollinator garden plantings coincided with science lessons at both schools, and involved traditional teachings about plants and their pollinators, and a seed song in Kanien’kéha. The Kahnawà:ke Shakotii’takehnhas Community Services Primary Prevention Team provided culturally relevant teachings, including about the Creation Story, traditional knowledge of keeping and planting seeds, and planting according to the moon phases. The students learned the names of the plants in their language.  

The project engaged many community partners. Annie Martin from Ecological Landscapes guided the plant selection and design; the Land Management Committee approved the garden plans; the two schools and the Kahnawà:ke Education Centre were involved in the plantings; and the the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Public Relations team promoted the initiative in a public service announcement. The collaborative nature of the project ensured that the community was engaged and connected to these new garden spaces.  

Final Thoughts

According to Julie Teio’keráthe Delisle, Environmental Projects Coordinator from the Kahnawà:ke Environment Protection Office

“This project highlighted KEPO’s capacity to oversee the creation of more pollinator pathways in the community with approval from the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke. The promotions and communications about the project garnered a lot of community support for similar projects.” 

In the spring of 2024, the Kahnawà:ke Environment Protection Office intends to engage students from the schools in planting seedlings into these gardens. They will also add signage explaining the purpose and benefits of pollinator gardens for the community, and a temporary fence will be installed to prevent off-road vehicles using the bike path from entering the garden space. Additionally, rain barrels will be installed near the gardens to provide a garden watering source, and the community hopes to add more pollinator habitat in the future.  

This initiative was supported by Green Communities Canada’s Living Cities Canada Fund. 

To find plants that are adapted to grow in your region, or plant nurseries that sell native plants, visit the Network of Nature website at the links provided.