Ethnoecological Restoration of an Iconic Plant Food in the Squamish Estuary, British Columbia, Canada

Contributed by Leigh Joseph

My name is Leigh Joseph and I am a student in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. I am completing an M.Sc. in ethnobotany under the guidance of Dr. Nancy Turner. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Montpellier in May 2012 to attend and present at the 2012 ISE Congress. And I also had the honor of being one of the 2012 recipients of the Darrell Posey Masters Fellowship.

I am of Coast Salish decent. Skwxwúmesh Úxwumixw is the name of the village that my family is from in the upper Squamish Valley in British Columbia, Canada. I have been fascinated by the natural world for as long as I can remember and have always felt at home in the wilderness. My memories of being taught by the elders bring me a feeling of connectedness and fulfillment that I also find when I am working out on the land. This connectedness and interest in my Skwxwúmesh culture inspired my graduate research.

There is a growing interest among many First Nations groups in British Columbia in the revitalization of traditional knowledge, use and practices pertaining to native plant foods. Increasingly, members of the Squamish Nation have expressed a great interest in lhásem (Fritillaria camschatcensis) as a traditional food that they would like to see re-integrated into their lives and eventually into their diets. Consequently, it was an ideal focal species around which to organize ethnoecological restoration activities.

During my time at the Congress I gave a presentation on my Masters research which focused on restoring lháseminto root gardens in the Squamish Estuary. It was a wonderful experience to present to an international audience with such varied backgrounds and the rich experience in the audience led to some great questions and discussion points.

Attending the Congress was a highlight of my graduate studies experience and I was very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful gathering.