Generosity is a prime principle of a land-based healing wellness program running this fall in Fort St. James at the College of New Caledonia (CNC).
The sponsored program that has offered three sessions earlier this year, including one in Vanderhoof, will run on four Sundays beginning Sept. 12.
Students will learn about traditional land stewardship, the ethical gathering of plant medicines, and more with co-facilitators Lauren Aldred and Nak’azdli elder Clara Jack.
As they prepare the plant medicines for themselves, they will also do so for others, spreading the healing and goodness throughout the communities, Aldred said.
“The scientific research is affirming what Indigenous elders have always told us,” she said.
“If you’re confused, if you’re not well, get out on the land and find balance there, and the scientific research is showing being out on the land lowers blood pressure and increases a sense of psychological well-being … and I suspect that’s just the beginning of understanding how good it is for us to be in contact with the Earth.”
Sessions started in late April and have been funded through ISPARC, Decoda Literacy and the Health Arts Research Centre with the University of Northern BC.
Aldred previously organized earlier sessions with Sarah John, who was serving as Aboriginal Liaison for CNC Nechako Region.
This will be the last one of the year.
Aldred said they hope to make Devil’s club salve and willow bark oil, as well as a salve with wild plantain and yarrow that is good for the skin and reportedly treating bug bites.
“We’ll be doing some different things because a lot of the spring and summer plants are turning yellow and fading away into fall and winter,” she added.
“But there’s a lot of medicines in trees that we haven’t done yet, and I know that one of the things we hope to do is make balsam salve which has wonderful healing properties and antimicrobial properties as well.”
Amongst the participants taking part in previous sessions were a number of teachers, one of whom Aldred said had used what she had learned from the course with her students.
She said there is a deep longing for most human beings, especially in northern B.C., to reconnect with nature and that there is a feeling of being at ease when outdoors and on the land that you don’t necessarily get indoors during a pandemic.
“When we get out on the land, there’s a deep connection to spirituality that happens as well, and that is both communal and very much an individual thing as well.”
A registration fee of $50 is required to attend the program that is returned to participants in the form of a gift card at the end of the program.