Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams

Celebrated in May and June, Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams invites people of all ages to plant heart gardens in memory of children lost to the residential school system, to honour residential school survivors and their families, and support the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).


The act of planting represents our commitment to reconciliation. Read Spirit Bear's Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation's Calls to Action here


In some ways, planting gardens offers lessons on working for reconciliation. Like planting a garden, taking part in reconciliation takes ongoing attention and learning. The garden represents reconciliation; a garden is alive and requires our collective care and commitment to prosper. Both are places where knowledge and action meet, where we honour the past, and prepare for the future. Spirit Bear teaches us all about this in his book, Honouring Memories, Planting Dreamshave a read with your class, family or at daycare - there's even a handy learning guide to accompany the book!


The inaugural Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams event took place at Rideau Hall as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s closing ceremonies on June 3, 2015. In support of the main event, individuals and organizations across Canada planted more than 6,000 hearts in over 80 heart gardens. 


Join us this summer in planting a heart garden while #Hibernating4Health! For instructions, ideas, and resources to help you get started, visit the FAQ page here


Finding Your Place in Reconciliation: The step-by-step activity supports people in learning about the impact of residential schools, engaging with the TRC’s Calls to Action, and creating a personal and specific goal that helps one Call to Action come true. Download it below or find it with other supporting resources on the FAQ page. 


Reconciliation is all of us. Read this information sheet for ways you can help make a difference. 


Learn more about the significant roles these historical figures held in the Residential School System here so that we can reconcile history together.


Heart Garden FAQ

Who can make a heart garden?

Hearts can be made by anyone of all ages and backgrounds. Heart gardens can be indoors or outdoors; they can be made of decorated paper hearts or include real flowers and medicines. What’s important is to be creative, and speak from the heart.

What should I plant in my heart garden?

In addition to planting hearts, you can plant flowers in your garden to create a living memorial to residential school survivors. Consider planting non-invasive varieties that support pollinators like bees and bloom throughout the season. This guide to creating a pollinator-friendly garden can help. 

You may also wish to consult with a local Elder to plant sacred medicines in your garden. Examples of sacred medicines include tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass. If you decide to plant sacred medicines, be sure to ask the Elder(s) how to care for the plants so that they can grow up to be healthy and proud over the years.

How can I get started?

Before getting your paws dirty, take the opportunity to learn about the history of residential schools and their ongoing impacts. The following websites offer good starting points. Consider doing the Finding Your Place in Reconciliation Learning Activity (found below) that guides learners in learning about the impact of residential schools and making a specific commitment to reconciliation.

Below you will find instructions on how to create a heart garden, including a template. Don't forget to register your heart garden to show how Canadians are acknowledging our shared histories and celebrating our collective commitment to reconciliation.

How can I participate safely during COVID-19?

Join us in celebrating Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams while #Hibernating4Health this summer. You can participate while staying safe by:

  • Planting a heart garden at home with your loved ones. 

  • Making a specific commitment to reconciliation by doing the Finding Your Place in Reconciliation Activity. This step-by-step activity guides people in learning about the impact of residential schools, engaging with the TRC’s Calls to Action, and creating a personal and specific goal that helps one Call to Action come true. It can be done individually or in a group and can be downloaded below. 

  • Showing your commitment to reconciliation by taking photos of your heart garden and sharing them on social media using #HeartGarden and #HonouringMemoriesPlantingDreams.

If you have any questions or would like to share articles or photos on our website, please contact us.


Seed Packets

Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams Seed Packets for 2022 are all sold out!

Please check back here in the spring of 2023 to order your seed packets for Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams! 

Each seed packet is full of perennial wildflower seeds. 

A packet contains: Black Eyed Susan, Gaillardia Lance Leaf Coreopsis, Catchfly, Iceland Poppy, Wild Lupins, Purple Coneflower, Evening Scented Primrose, Russell Lupines, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Shasta Daisy, Sweet William, Wallflower. 

These flowers range in height from 25cm to 120cm. Each seed packets cover an area of approximately 4 ¼ x 4 ¼ feet.

Directions as per Ontario Seed Company Ltd.

Time of Planting

  • Sow wildflower seeds into a prepared seedbed from early May through mid-June or in the fall from mid-September through to late October.
  • Late fall sowings additionally allow any dormant seed to be naturally stratified over the winter.
  • A very early spring sowing in late March and early April is also effective at providing natural stratification on any dormant seed.

Site Preparation

  • Remove weeds by hand or apply an organic non-selective herbicide.
  • Loosen soil to 2.5 cm (1") depth with a stiff rake, cultivator or hoe.
  • Flowers will germinate and establish themselves much better when planted into a bed of well drained loose soil, rather than dense or compacted topsoil.
  • Broadcast the seed and let mother nature do the rest.
  • Smaller seeds can be mixed with dry sand to improve distribution when sowing.
  • Natural forces such as rain, snow and frost-heaving of the soil will work the seed down into the soil bed.
  • Irrigate through the first growing season as needed.