“Can we learn to live here as if we are staying?” asks Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants. “What happens when we truly become native to a place?”
Kimmerer, a plant ecologist and distinguished professor of Environmental Biology, is also a member of the Potawatomi Nation. Her book invites the reader to accompany her as she harvests sweetgrass and strawberries, as she guides her students to experience the generosity of the earth, as she discovers her own way to live as if she were staying.
Since last March, the Knowing Our Placebook club has been reading books by Indigenous authors. The book club is part of a reconciliation initiative presented by the Bowen Island Library, the Bowen Island Arts Council and Pauline Le Bel. We aim to learn our true history with Indigenous peoples and to foster mutually-enhancing relationships. Stimulating and mind-expanding discussions have come out of reading The Truth About Stories by Thomas King, My Conversations with Canadians by Lee Maracle, The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, and Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson, each author offering another way of thinking about and acting on reconciliation.
BraidingSweetgrass, the subject of the next two club meetings, has been described as a hymn of love to the world.
At a time when it’s all too easy to feel hopeless, this thoughtful book, bringing together science, Indigenous knowledge and spirit, offers an antidote.
“Despair is paralysis,” Kimmerer writes. “It robs us of agency. It blinds us to our own power and the power of the earth.”
She suggests restoration as a powerful antidote to despair, “Restoration offers concrete means by which humans can once again enter into positive, creative relationship with the more-than-human world.” Living as if we were planning to stay.
Kimmerer helps us to understand that it is not the land that is broken, it is our relationship to it. To love where we live is not enough, we have to heal it.
Braiding Sweetgrassis available at the Bowen Library and Phoenix on Bowen. This is such a powerful and life-changing book, you may want your own copy to keep and savour over time. Phoenix has two copies and can process orders in a few days. Let them know you are part of the Knowing Our Place book club and receive a 10 per cent discount.
Come and join us January 26 and February 16 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and be part of the conversation. You can register for either one or both dates at bit.ly/bookclub2019 or by email or phone to Bowen Library.