National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

I am a settler and guest in British Columbia, the unceded and traditional territories of numerous Indigenous Peoples who have distinct cultures and languages. I came here as a child with my family in 1987, immigrants from Ireland.

In my project to look for big trees around the province, I attempted to learn about their many uses by Indigenous Peoples and settlers alike. I included some of that information in my my book, Tracking Giants, when it was readily available in guidebooks, rather than drawing on Traditional Knowledge without consent. I sought and received permission from Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie and Dr. Nancy J. turner to use material from Luschiim’s Plants. I selected this guidebook as my main source on Indigenous uses of plants as it’s wonderful and authoritative, and it contains information relevant to Cowichan Tribes, whose territory covers many of the places I mention in my book as well as my home in Snuneymuxw territory. What I like most about this book: the Hul’qumi’num names for plants, which I’m attempting to layer over the other names I know, so many of them lacking in description or reinforcing colonialism (ahem Douglas-fir).

It’s often said that Reconciliation is a verb. Like a commitment to a practice or a person or a community, it’s an outcome of daily decisions in micro and macro ways. For me, Reconciliation is an opportunity to address ongoing injustices and to begin again, always, from a place of respect.

In my career, I’ve had the immense privilege of editing works by Indigenous writers, several of them memoirs of intergenerational trauma and experiences in residential school. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. The lessons I’ve learned from those books, and from additional training in editing Indigenous manuscripts and in trauma-informed approaches to teaching, influence my decisions as I build my business. I’m applying decolonial and anti-racist values to how I make a living, and in this ongoing work I’m guided by numerous teachers and books, including Luschiim’s Plants, a guide to what’s growing.

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