Exploring Native Plants through Medicine and the Arts

Join us June 26 from 10:30am to 4:30pm for a unique opportunity to explore in detail some of the plants of coastal British Columbia.  Participants will be guided through both presentations and hands-on exercises on the grounds of the Museum. 

Starting at 10:30am, We Wai Kai elder June Johnson will share a presentation on Traditional Medicines focusing on Indigenous use of local plants and trees. Following this presentation, artist Clive Powsey will lead the group through a series of drawing and watercolour exercises that will allow for an in-depth investigation of the physical properties of these plants. The emphasis will be on plants that can be found in the Museum’s interpretive garden. The program will conclude at 4:30 pm, including a 30 minute lunch break.  The cost is $55 and registration is by calling the Museum at 250-287-3103.  Registration is limited to 10 people, and COVID protocols will be in place.

June Johnson’s traditional name is Umagalis.  She is from the We Wai Kai Band of Cape Mudge and is an Elder in Residence at North Island College. June works with indigenous students to help them feel comfortable as students at NIC and also teaches Liqʷala/Kwak’wala language classes. In addition, she leads workshops about traditional plants and medicines as well as guiding plant walks with local students, community members and even Doctors working in our public health system. Today many working in our public health system are willing to learn about traditional medicines and how they can work for our health, which is a huge step forward.  June is also a cultural coordinator in her community and has volunteered for 10 years to teach the dances and protocol in the bighouse to both young and old.  She feels it is important for the youth to learn and feel proud of who they are and where they come from.  June is also a seamstress and has sewn a lot of the regalia for both the Liǧʷiɫdax̌ʷ elders and the Youth Cultural Group.

Clive Powsey comments:  Drawing can be an art form, it can be applied as design or illustration, or it can be a personal preoccupation. The boundaries between these domains are not distinct. Whatever your approach, drawing is an opportunity to observe the world of forms with intense scrutiny and in the process realize something about them. We’ll be applying the scrutiny of drawing to a collection of Indigenous medicinal plants as described by Elder June Johnson in order to increase the chance of recognizing these plants again when you encounter them. If you paint or draw, bring your regularly used materials to this workshop. If you don’t, don’t worry; see the very basic list of sketching materials below. Through an introductory slide show and 4 hours of practice, you will be provided with some tips for creating both artful drawing and diagnostic schematics in the field. It is hoped that you’ll return to the garden to draw, as well as bring your sketchbook on future outings to create drawings useful, artful, or both.

Supply List

  • Your regular drawing or watercolour painting materials and small sketchbooks.  OR
  • Buy a small 7×10 inch drawing or mixed media pad.  (The mixed media pad will work better with ink or with watercolour)
  • An eraser (a ‘kneaded’ eraser works well)
  • A graphite pencil or two. An HB and a 2B should be sufficient. A ballpoint pen might also be nice for making notes.
  • The Museum will supply chairs and tables.  If you have a personal chair please feel free to bring it along..
  • Clothes for changing weather, jacket, hat etc.  Keep an eye on the forecast.
  • Lunch, water and a thermos of tea or coffee. 

If you are in need of supplies, The Museum, alongside the Art+Earth Festival, have partnered with The Crow’s Nest Artist Collective in Willow Point to ensure all the necessary supplies for the artists are available to purchase. Contact Nadia at 250-926-3764 or stop by the collective at 2550 South Island Highway for more information.

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