Ancient Forests Outside Bridgewater will Continue to Provide Healing Under New Leadership



(Illustration by Jessie McLaughlin)

The healing power of the ancient hemlocks on 200 acres of forest outside of Bridgewater will now once again be shared and felt by Mi’kmaw elders, knowledge keepers and youth. 

Asitu’lɨsk (ah-see-dew-lisk), known for the last 30 years by locals as Windhorse Farm, is launching summer programming to bring to life their vision of healing and growing while learning on the land. 

Windhorse was a privately-owned forest, farm and retreat space. The farm was returned to the Mi’kmaq through a transfer and purchase in late 2021. 

Christopher Googoo, Chief Operating Officer of Ulnooweg Education Centre, the Indigenous-led non-for-profit that now owns the land, says the whole process to return the land took 2-3 years and came with good intentions.

“It was quite a different journey from a coloniser’s perspective. Throughout this journey there was a lot of getting to know each other… and the land. [We were] reintroducing them to the land from our lens,” says Googoo.

Since the launch of their social media presence and website, Asitu’lɨsk has invited folks to join them in dreaming of the future. Googoo seems most excited for a possible performance arts centre. 

“If we can pull it off then I think it would be the first Indigenous owned performing arts centre [in Atlantic Canada],” he says.

Asitu’lɨsk hopes to collaborate with other organisations, especially Indigenous-led ones, to create and support programming onsite. Later this summer a group of high school aged Indigenous youth will take part in a STEM focused program that incorporates Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing), a lens that integrates Traditional Knowledge with western science. 

The new name for the land means “that which gives you balance.” According to their website, Asitu’lɨsk is “poised to become the foremost place of learning, healing, and gathering in Atlantic Canada.”

“You can be healed by the forest,” says Googoo.

Community members looking to support the mission can follow along online, make a financial contribution to the project and continue to use the forests as a place where all can connect, gather and heal.


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