Members from the Nass Valley Wild Medicine group attended Coast Mountain College in January to teach students about local plants and how to harvest them for their medicinal remedies. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

Nass Valley Wild Medicine shares traditional plant knowledge in Northwest

Workshops teach local communities about the medicinal uses

As interest starts to grow around the health benefits of nature-based practices, Nass Valley Wild Medicine is running workshops to help localize the knowledge.

Founded in 2014, the collective was started by a few Nisga’a elders working with nurse Megan Oleson, harvesting traditional wild plants in the Nass Valley for medicinal use through remedies such as teas, salves and creams.

“We were doing [the workshops] really informally in the Nass with anybody who was like-minded or community members who were interested. We’d gather around tea and talk about plants, sharing knowledge,” says Olesen, who’s been working as a nurse in the Nass Valley since 2012 and a founding co-member of the Nass Valley Wild Medicine group.

“We started getting more encouragement from Nisga’a Lisims Government and the village governments to hold more structured workshops, so we then ran programming out of the Nisga’a Museum where we taught people about plant harvesting and would also do plant walks.”

READ MORE: Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture visits Nass Valley

Oleson says word eventually spread about their workshops in the Nass Valley with regular visitors travelling from Terrace, Kitimat and the Hazeltons, which also included school groups signing up, to learn about traditional plants.

It wasn’t long until community groups started to as whether they could hold these informative sessions for them throughout the Northwest.

When it comes to Nass Valley Wild Medicine products, Oleson emphasizes that it’s about respecting the land they harvest their plants from and making sure it’s gathered with good intentions. Their goal is not to exploit the area of what it grows to sell to a bigger market but to show the healing power that nature has to offer by reviving Indigenous knowledge — many of which has been lost or scarcely held onto in the last 100 years.

“We don’t really see ourselves as experts. We’re just more or less trying to create conversations and exchanges about plants and share our remedies,” she says. “We handcraft everything, we handpick everything ourselves. Then we process it very carefully, which all comes from our own personal experiences.”

READ MORE: Bigfoot sighting reported in northwestern B.C.’s Nass Valley

For Morris Watts, one of the elders who is part of the Nass Valley Wild Medicine group, the workshops are a chance to share his Nisga’a culture and emphasize the importance of holding onto local traditions like harvesting.

“I always say to everyone that you’re living in the Garden of Eden when you walk into that forest, you have to know what to taste, what to touch and what to avoid,” Watts says.

“There are some people [in the community] who already know some of this but it’s important to refresh the mind… it makes you feel kind of special to learn all this.”

This spring and summer, Nass Valley Wild Medicine plans to recommence their plant walking tours which are open to the public.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


(Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

(Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

Just Posted

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

City of Terrace calling on Province to take stricter social distancing measures

The City sent the Province a letter earlier this month with a number of recommendations

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

Grant could help ease road rebuild cost

Would help pay for sidewalk, bike lane

Terrace Library, Misty River Books adapt amid COVID-19 to keep readers reading

Library also unrolling online programs to keep kids occupied

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

‘Community is amazing’: Williams Lake woman organizes drive-by birthdays

With self-isolation the norm due to COVID-19 children are missing out

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

Most Read