The Shuswap Band is adding a creative spin to remembering our land’s history by putting a Plant ID Book together. The book asked for community involvement, allowing people to draw, paint, or even go so far as to dry out plants, leaves, and flowers and submit PDF copies of their creations.
The guidelines given to contributors were to, “create an image representing what plants mean the most to them/their relationship with the land,” says Olivia De Brabandere, the project coordinator and Shuswap’s Culture and Heritage Coordinator.
Though the book required about a year of planning, it was only recently that construction began, accepting community submissions from Aug. 16 to Sept. 16, in the form of a contest with cash prizes for first, second, and third place. No winners have been selected as of yet.
Eventually, the pages will all be compiled; however, the illustration contest is just step one of the project. “We’re also aiming to do site visits with community members where Elders and Knowledge Keepers can share their knowledge on traditional plant uses, and community members can take pictures to be included in the book,” says De Brabandere.
The project was first started as an initiative with Parks Canada, who has been taking an increased interest in Indigenous peoples, running programs to emphasize and learn more about their traditional relationship to the land.
Their goal is to have the book completed next summer. De Brabandere says that ideally, “the book [will be] produced largely by and for the Shuswap community. Once the book is published, members will have a copy to use as a guide when they gather or use plants.”
Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer