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A place for healing, education and reconciliation will open in St. John's Park this summer. 

Indigenous community members and people who had a hand in the design, unveiled the official plans for Winnipeg's Healing Forest today. 

The space will be a living memorial to children lost to the residential school system, and a space where people - and in particular students - can learn about Canada's troubled colonial history as a way to encourage healthy relationships moving forward. 

The University of Winnipeg is partnering on the project and will be formulating and partially funding the curriculum. 

"It's the right place to do this kind of work because in this whole park there are lot of monuments but nothing Indigenous so we wanted to introduce this into the space," said Dr. Leeane Block, a professor at the University of Winnipeg who helped design the Healing Forest and will help develop the curriculum. "There's a lot of difficult topics that need to be addressed by teachers with their students, and this is going to be a space where they can do that with some support." 

"Teachers will have access to materials that will help them teach the kids about reconciliation." 

The design of the forest will be based on Anishanaabe tradition, with a circular layout of trees and benches facing inward to encourage contemplation. It will also have a medicine wheel garden and a plaque from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate its designation as a Healing Forest. 

Justice Murray Sinclair was at today's announcement and said there is still a long way to go to reach full reconciliation, but he hopes young people can use the space to learn and heal. 

"Young Indigenous people are well placed through their knowledge of the history of this country and their own education and commitment to the future," Sinclair said. "They know there are positive things they can do to affect change." 

Construction of the Healing Forest will begin in March, 2018 and it's expected to open sometime in the summer to mark the 125th anniversary of St. John's Park. 

Canada's first Healing Forest was opened in Edmonton in Nov. 2016, on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River.

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