Molly Billows – 2014 Internship Reflections

Each 2014 UBC student Intern brought unique gifts and knowledge to the Indigenous Research Partnerships. Read about each of their experiences below.

Danette Jubinville – Indigenous Health Garden Intern

Erica Baker – Indigenous Health Garden Intern

Paulina Naylor – Feast Bowl Intern

Erica Gibbons – CRUW Research Intern


Molly Billows – Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness (CRUW) Research Intern

May – December 2014


1622141_10154010349150495_1337426159_nMolly Billows comes from the Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) Nation. She is of mixed ancestry and grew up in the area around Victoria, BC. She moved to Vancouver four years ago to attend university. She is entering her final year in the Global Resource Systems Program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, where she is focusing on Indigenous Peoples and Land Health. She is currently volunteering and doing research with the Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness (CRUW) Program, and feels so much gratitude for being able to work with youth, elders and knowledge keepers at the UBC Farm on the beautiful territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam people. She also works with Access and Diversity at UBC as a program assistant with the Really? Campaign, a program which aims to empower individuals to respond to discriminatory comments and situations, and is on the executive team of the First Nations Studies Student Association (FNSSA).  


CRUW youth transplant tobacco seedlings they started in the greenhouse

CRUW youth transplant tobacco seedlings they started in the greenhouse


This year I had the immense pleasure of being at the UBC Farm, on the beautiful territory of the Musqueam people, as a research intern with the Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness Program (CRUW).

Every other Saturday morning from May to October, bright and early, rain or shine, the vans would arrive and the youth would pour out, sometimes still sleepy, but most already bursting with energy. For some of the Aboriginal youth in the program, living away from their family and home community, CRUW gave them opportunities to learn more about their cultures. For many non-Aboriginal youth, this program gave them an opportunity to learn with/about Aboriginal peoples and cultures for the first time outside of a social studies classroom.


Youth learn to make their own drums in the UBC Farm Yurt

Youth learn to make their own drums in the UBC Farm Yurt


For everyone involved, the UBC farm and the CRUW program provided a bi-weekly opportunity to step back from regular city life, to connect with each other, to connect with the land, and to participate in new activities and workshops together. To me, this is beauty of the program. The building and nourishing of relationships: Connecting the youth with Elders, knowledge keepers, volunteers and mentors, and connecting everyone to the land and territory we are on through land-based wellness activities like gardening, medicine making, ceremony, and just being together and having fun outdoors- which is healing and nourishing in itself!


CRUW youth preparing freshly-harvested medicines for skin salve

Youth prepare freshly-harvested medicines for skin salve


In addition to participating in the day-to-day activities with CRUW, I was able to learn about the complexities of doing research, especially with youth and within an Indigenous context. I really valued the moments of research where I was able to have one-on-one conversations with the youth about their experience with CRUW. I always felt honoured to listen to and witness their stories and was constantly humbled and inspired by the youth, by the depth of their insights, by the different connections they were forming with the land, and by the level of their awareness and self-reflection—even at ages as young as 12 years old.

I raise my hands to these wonderful young people, and to everyone involved with CRUW and at the farm, in thanks for the beautiful season with the CRUW program and for the learning and growing that was able to take place.

– Molly Billows