Awen' Gathering Place
The Awen’ Gathering Place is a space of sharing, learning, teaching, ceremony, celebration and contemplation created by the Town of Collingwood to advance recognition of the past and present Indigenous Peoples and their heritage legacy in Collingwood and the surrounding area. Awen’ is a Wendat word for “water”.
The concept for the Awen’ Gathering Place is based on the teachings of the renowned educator, artist and poet Dr Duke Redbird of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation. The design links the seven grandfather teachings to the seven layers of the food forest. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are an ancient Anishinaabe/Midewiwin teaching on the ethics of proper behaviour and conduct or ‘the good way of life’.
These teachings are linked to the lands that were for thousands of years the source of life for the Anishinaabeg peoples who gathered foods, medicines and materials from the forest in the area that is now Collingwood.
Lafontaine Iron Werks, of Tiny, Ontario, joined forces with Nicola Logworks of Merritt, B.C., to produce the vision inspired by Dr. Redbird and colleagues. Locally, Envision Tatham provided site planning, design, and engineering services to ensure that the structure had the foundation and support needed. Local electrical contract, Spears Electric, ensured that the structure had the power needed to provide light and utility and make the Gathering Circle a very visible component of the town’s waterfront skyline. Eco Blue Systems took on the very difficult work of reclaiming the lands from their former use and developing a basis for trails, landforms, and the Gathering Circle structure, that will make Collingwood proud.
Supporting all of the above have been the United Steelworkers Union, with the culmination of that support that took place on September 6th in projects at the Gathering Circle, but also ranging beyond to Sunset Point Park and a Shoreline Cleanup.
The design of the Gathering Place is the result of a collaboration between Dr. Redbird and the Indigenous design team of Brook McIlroy Inc. Architecture/Cultural Place-Making Studio.
For more information about the Awen' Gathering Place, feel free to click on the following documents:
Photo by Dave West Photography
Film by Mountain Goat Film Company Inc.