Each 2014 UBC student Intern brought unique gifts and knowledge to the Indigenous Research Partnerships. Read about each of their experiences below.
Erica Baker – Indigenous Research and Education Garden Intern
May – August 2014
Hi everyone, my name is Erica Baker and I’m a graduating non-Indigenous student in the First Nations Studies Program. I will be working with the garden this summer and I’m interested in learning more about urban agricultural projects and food policy, and how those intersect with Aboriginal heath and well-being. Next year I will be starting my Masters at Queen’s University in Kingston, studying in their School of Kinesiology and Health Studies to continue my research interests from my recent research practicum placement with the First Nations Snowboard Team. I look forward to meeting as many people as possible and to contribute to the garden during these next few months. Thank you for having me!
A reason why I wanted to become an intern was that I wanted to feel personally challenged by the experience of working in the Garden. I wanted to be pushed outside my comfort zone into a place of meaningful learning and engagement with the land. I had no prior knowledge about plants and food as medicine, or the basics required to decolonize my own diet and healing practices, and I knew this was something that was lacking in my life. I grew up eating frozen and processed foods, unaware of what a diet of local and fresh foods would be. I could sense that something was missing and this internship was a way of exploring who I could be.
As my internship with the Garden came to a close, I could see the transformation that happened to me. I could walk around the garden and describe plants to volunteers and community members, letting them know what the plants are good for and how we use them in our initiatives. I was familiar with how all plants have at least 12 different uses and how many of them look like the thing they are meant to heal for (like a lung-shaped leaf being good for your lungs). I understood good seed planting principles and how to help a plant reach its full potential in an organic environment. The list goes on. No longer was I a person who knew about frozen foods and big box grocery stores; I was then a person who knew more about how to listen to my own body and respond to its needs with things from the land around me.
That listening to my own body now comes in many forms. One time, a bee stung me at the end of a tea-harvesting workshop with the Medicine Collective. I knew to get chewed up plantain and apply it to my bee string to relieve the pain. That was one of the more exciting times I could apply my knowledge from the Garden. Other times I have known what do to make myself a healthier and happier person just by things my fellow gardeners would share with me, such as reminding me that you are what you eat. This reminder came one day as someone mentioned they should eat a certain kind of plant (one that many people would call a weed) because it was so strong, and if they ate it they would be strong too. All of these lessons came while we were working in the garden together, which became a generous classroom for all of us. Because of this internship, I now feel more connecting to the environment around me and I feel less like something is missing in my life.
Thank you, Hannah and the Garden community for a wonderful experience to be a part of.
– Erica Baker
As part of her internship, Erica documented her experience with photographs. You can see some here: