Native plants and their uses

I love spending time outside, in the spring and summer you will find me in my garden, planting seeds, weeding or watering, watching something the size of a grain of sand turn into sustaining nourishment.

Every year I attempt to grow something new, last year it was broccoli and cauliflower. At the moment my garden is restricted to a city lot, the boundaries seemingly smaller each year with the additions of new raised beds as I experiment with new plants. When I am in my garden working I feel a sense of connection to not only myself but the soil beneath me, it is both meditative and a time to disconnect from technology and follow my thoughts. I often think about what it would take to live off of the land, to be totally self sufficient. I know that I could not survive off of my summer crop and this train of thought always leads me to the Indigenous people of Vancouver Island who survived and thrived without agriculture for millennia.

I had the opportunity in 2018 as part of an Indigenous Studies and Marine Biology course to take part in a native species walk with a Traditional Ecologcial Knowledge (TEK) keeper from the Tsawout first nation on the peninsula.

Image result for tsawout first nation

Read more about the Traditional Territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ  people here 

I was fascinated by the number of usable, edible and medicinal plants all around us. From natural sunscreen to herring roe collection, the native plants of coastal British Columbia have assisted and sustained Indigenous ways of knowing and being since time immemorial. I now pay closer attention when I am on a hike to the plant life around me, I repeat the names of each one that I remember (which are few). It has been a personal goal of mine to gain a deeper understanding of the native plants of coastal British Columbia and their uses so it was an obvious topic for my open inquiry. I plan to not only learn about the plants but to go out and find examples around the Greater Victoria area, an opportunity to connect with nature and myself in the ‘off-season’.

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