Submitted by: Gabriele Simmons, MNO TYRMC Placement Student

Toronto Council_Medicine Walk
Medicine Walk participants learned about natural healing
and edible wild plants from Métis Knowledge Holder Joe
Paquette. Click here to view a larger version of the picture.

In October, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) and MNO Infinite Reach (IR) Facilitator’s from the University of Toronto (U of T) and York University (York U) hosted a Medicine Walk with Métis Knowledge Holder and MNO Veterans’ Council President Joe Paquette. The Walk, which took place in Toronto’s High Park, was well-attended with a total of 20 participants.

The Medicine Walk attracted individuals from all backgrounds including, MNO citizens, non-Indigenous folks, park volunteers, youth and budding environmentalists! Participants took advantage of the Walk to learn more about useful wild plants from a Knowledge Holder Paquette. The Walk also offered an incredible opportunity to build relationships with like-minded individuals who have a vested interest in better understanding how to steward the land. Participants also sought to learn how to walk more softly in their daily lives.

For two-and-a-half hours, Knowledge Holder Paquette led the group through the park and shared teachings about medicines in the natural world and the collective responsibility to protect them. Participants shared anecdotes about the various ways in which they have found healing in nature. Some participants attempted to identify specific plants using Knowledge Holder Paquette’s Peterson Field Guide: Eastern Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs and Peterson’s Field Guide: Edible Wild Plants.

The Medicine Walk offered participants an opportunity to connect both culturally and spiritually with the land and the chance to speak with a Métis Knowledge Holder. This was especially valuable for those living within the city, as it can be challenging for Métis people in urban spaces to connect with the land.

The Medicine Walk also created the opportunity for MNO IR Facilitators―Eleni Pappas (York U) and Elise St. Germain (U of T)―to connect with individuals from the Toronto community. Pappas and St. Germain spoke about the possibility of hosting a similar walk that would be closer to the York campus. They also shared ideas about events that could be hosted concurrently by their MNO IR Network branches. The point was made that by pooling resources and spaces from both campuses, more students and youth could get involved with the MNO IR programming that take places in the Toronto and York Region.

Many people, especially youth, have requested in the past that the MNO TYRMC create a medicinal garden specifically for use by MNO citizens. When the idea was presented during the Walk, it was unanimously supported with participants agreeing to help with the upkeep necessary to maintain it. Overall, the Walk was a great success and by the end many participants were asking when the next one would be held!

Published on: November 30, 2016