Episode 46: Leigh Joseph, Ethnobotanist & Community Activist
In this episode, we hear from Leigh Joseph about collaborative work at a community level, observing people out on the land and learning their stories that connect them to their place. Leigh talks about how having a more Indigenous presence in ethnobotany is key to community collaboration, and how researching traditional Indigenous plant medicine can help Indigenous communities return to their cultural practices and build a foundation for healing and self-care at a community and cultural level.
Guest: Leigh Joseph (website)
Leigh Joseph (Styawat) is an ethnobotanist, researcher and community activist. She is from the Squamish First Nation and she works to contribute to cultural knowledge renewal in connection to traditional plant foods and medicines.
Her research takes a community-based approach and is influenced by her experience as an Indigenous woman reconnecting to her cultural roots. Wherever possible she draws on ancestral teachings that are connected to traditional plants and the land in her research.
In 2012 Leigh graduated with a Masters of Science in ethnobotany from the University of Victoria under the guidance of Dr. Nancy Turner and she is currently pursuing her doctoral studies. She has worked with many Canadian Indigenous communities over the past decade on ethnobotany-related community projects.
Leigh’s family has experienced inter-generational trauma resulting from residential school and other colonial impacts. Many of her family members did not grow up with land-based practices. She believes that harvesting plants and being on the land offers an opportunity to reconnect to identity and to honour the people who fought to keep this knowledge alive.
Click here for full transcription of this episode.
- As We Have Always Done (book), Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
- Dr. Nancy Turner, University of Victoria
- Finding our roots: ethnoecological restoration of lhasem (Fritillaria camschatcensis (L.) Ker-Gawl), an iconic plant food in the Squamish River Estuary, British Columbia by Leigh Joseph, University of Victoria, 8/28/2012
- "Indigenous stories lead scientist to discover plants can hear" - CBC, Quirks & Quarks, August 4, 2017
- Northern rice root
- The Residential School System
- Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo)
- Squamish Nation (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw)
- Tahltan Band Council (Dease Lake)
- Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation (Dawson City)