The Anishinaabe people gathered among other tribes in the central area along the North Saskatchewan River. O-day’min means strawberry in Anishinaabe. It is a traditional medicine that guided the Anishinaabe’s understanding of the deep connection between mind, body, spirit and emotions.
Elders used O-day’min, the seeds of which are on the outside, not hidden on the inside, to share teachings about vulnerability. O-day’min teaches about creation, community and love. It reminds us to love as an active experience—one that involves commitment, compassion and caring.
The strawberry, or heart-berry, is connected to a vast system, including leaves, stems and roots, just as the heart is connected to all other parts of the body. The heart is essential to spiritual balance. It guides the heartfelt decisions made to create accountable and sustainable environments where cultures can thrive together, and in turn preserves its roots and continues to grow. The heart and the heart-berry are representative of the connections between other communities and the harmony that can be found living among each other.
This historical gathering area for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is now Edmonton, a city that encompasses many people and cultures. The O-day’min represents the heart of Edmonton. The stem of the heart-berry represents the North Saskatchewan River and the vessels are the waterways, while the veins make up the blood (people). The roots of the strawberry represent the different cultures that now make up the city population.
In the teaching about community and cooperation, the O-day’min acts like the heart—as a main muscle. It requires the veins, valves and all other parts in order to work properly, in the same way a community needs its parts to work together to thrive, despite cultural differences.