Elder Sessions at Kihew Watston: Indigenous Medicines with Katie Dene

October 21, 2016

In an urban environment, there is often a sense of disconnect between humans and the vegetation that surrounds them. Naturally occurring weeds are sprayed, plucked and mowed off of lawns. When produce is needed, most people turn to the supermarket rather than their own backyards. But the reality is that many regional plants—even weeds—have value as food and medicine.

Elder Katie Dene, a medicine woman, will be coming to the Kihew Watston, MacEwan’s Indigenous education centre (formerly the Aboriginal Education Centre), on October 24 to host a session on the medicinal power of local plants.

Karen Christensen-Dalsgaard, an assistant professor in the department of Biological Sciences approached the Kihew Watston with the idea, seeing an opportunity for her botany students to learn traditional Indigenous uses of local plants. “It is valuable to know the importance of plants to Indigenous people in the context of maintaining a healthy mind and body,” she says. “When we understand the multifaceted importance of plants, it deepens and broadens our appreciation for them and the role they play in our society.”

The presentation will not include sacred Indigenous knowledge, and will instead focus on the general medicinal and nutritional value of local plants. “Elder Katie Dene will give a general overview” explains Judy Iseke, director of Aboriginal Education Services. “She’ll talk in general about plants and foods found in this area, and ways to use those for health and well-being.”

Though the session was designed with botany students in mind, Judy sees it benefitting a much broader audience and encourages anyone interested to attend. “Anybody that’s interested in plants, trees and foodstuffs that can be useful in health and well-being should come,” she says. “That’s almost everybody.”

Elder sessions at Kihew Watston: Indigenous Medicines with Katie Dene takes place on Monday, October 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m., in the Kihew Watston Ceremonial Room (Room 7-131) at City Centre Campus.

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