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Plants & People Teacher Workshop

On Friday morning, February 9, 2024, twelve of us gathered under a blue, sunny sky for a professional development workshop at the Huy ch q'u Welcome Figure & Native Plant Garden.

Plants & People workshop content was developed over the summer of 2023 by a group of HCTF (Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation) WildBC Facilitators, including myself. It was great to see our agenda in action!

My goals were to share peoples connections to plants, identify several common native plants, and share activities and resources for teaching about people and plants, with a focus on W̱SÁNEĆ and Quw'utsun plant uses, SENĆOŦEN and Hul'q'umi'num' words, and First Peoples' Principles of Learning.

Happily, artist Quentin Harris, who carved the Huy ch q'u Welcome Figure, "with about 1000 helping hands" and who designed the SD64 Indigenous Enhancement Agreement Animals (described below), had chosen this workshop. He pointed out that his grandmother Dr. Mary Thomas was pictured on the front of one the books laid out for reference (Earth's Blanket, upper left, left-most photo)!

To introduce ourselves, we gathered in a circle and shared our names and intention for being here. Then, each person randomly received a card representing one of eight SD64 Indigenous Animals and went to find their corresponding painting along the fence. On the back of each card are personal questions, so they chose one or two, and we walked along the fenceline visiting each animal, learning what it represents, and learning more about each participant.

After that, we gathered back in a circle and looked at the Native Plant Garden around us. I'd strung twine between the fenceposts and attached native plant cards corresponding to plants growing there and other resources to it with laundry pins. There were HCTF Plants & Peoples cards, Strong Nations' Native Plant Identification Cards, and Living Lab Project's Plant Guide.

People chose a plant card from the clothesline, then went to find the plant in the garden. They read the back of the plant card to learn more about its names and edible and medicinal uses. Then, they interviewed the plant using personal questions and wrote down the plant's responses on wee notepads donated by Windsor Plywood (thanks!).


As people wrapped up, we handed around Native Berry Tea containing Elderberry, Hawthorne and Rosehips from Salt Spring Herbs (Erinanne Harper) in small mason jars.


Once we gathered together in a circle again, we took turns reading the interviews out loud and tried to guess which plant they'd chosen! We learned a lot about each plants uses and personalities!


We closed by sharing favourite parts of the morning, plus suggestions for how to make the space and activities even better for students. Suggestions included additional plantings all the way around the circle, allowing the grass to grow higher (a natural landscaping plan), and a denser hedge along Rainbow Road.


All in all, this workshop shared great resources with great people in great weather and was a really nurturing and connecting experience for me and others! Thank you HCTF Wild Schools and SD64 GITA for this opportunity to share!



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