In May 2010, Deconstructing Dinner travelled to Vancouver Island where two international conferences on ethnobiology were being hosted. Ethnobiology examines the relationships between humans and their surrounding plants, animals and ecosystems. Today, more and more people are expressing an interest to develop closer relationships with the earth. This leaves much to be learned from the research of ethnobiologists, and in particular, from the symbiotic human-earth relationships that so many peoples around the world have long maintained.
On this part II of the series, we listen to segments from a one-on-one interview with Nancy Turner of the University of Victoria. Nancy is one of the most well-known ethnobiologists in Canada and Deconstructing Dinner’s Jon Steinman sat down with her in the community of Tofino to learn more about what ethnobiology is, why the field is an increasingly important one to pay attention to, and what we all might learn from the many indigenous peoples who ethnobiologists work with.
Also on the show – a recording of a presentation by Cheryl Bryce and Pamela Tudge who are examining how the indigenous peoples living in what is now the City of Victoria might reinstate traditional harvesting practices of an important traditional food – camus.
Nancy Turner, distinguished professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria (Victoria, BC) –
Born in Berkeley, California, Nancy moved to Victoria at the age of 5 and she lives there today as a Distinguished Professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. She earned a PhD in Ethnobotany in 1974 from the University of British Columbia when she studied three contemporary indigenous groups of the Pacific Northwest (the Haida, Bella Coola and Lillooet). Nancy’s major research has demonstrated the role of plant resources in past and present aboriginal cultures and languages as being an integral component of traditional knowledge systems. Nancy has also played an important role in helping demonstrate how traditional management of plant resources has shaped the landscapes and habitats of western Canada. In 1999 Nancy received the Order of British Columbia and in 2009 received the Order of Canada. She’s authored numerous books including, among others, Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples, Food Plants of Interior First Peoples, Plants of Haida Gwaii and The Earth’s Blanket – Traditional Teachings for Sustainable Living.
Cheryl Bryce, lands manager, Songhees Nation, (Victoria, BC) –
The Songhees or Songish, also known as the Lekwungen or Lekungen, are an indigenous North American Coast Salish people who reside on southeastern Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the Greater Victoria area.
Pamela Tudge, former student, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria (Victoria, BC) –
Pamela recently moved to the North Okanagan region of BC where she’s now studying food systems and mapping for her master’s research at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan.