Relationships in practice: Makkovimiut plant knowledge and practices

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 14:15
, Erica - Carleton University/PhD candidate
, Carol - Nunatsiavut Government/Community Liaison Officer, Makkovik
, Gita - Carleton University/Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
, Jeremy - Saint Mary's University/Department of Biology

In the natural sciences, plants are understood to live in complex networks of ecological relationships. Plants also live in complex networks of cultural and personal relationships. In the Inuit Community of Makkovik (Nunatsiavut, Labrador), the plant knowledge and practices of  Makkovimiut (residents of Makkovik) speak to these integrated networks of ecological, cultural and personal relationships. Plants and plant knowledge support cultural practices such as fishing, which in turn support plants and plant knowledge. Personal ethics of reciprocity and respect help guide relationships with plants, and these values also shape the ways Makkovimiut manage—care for—plants, landscapes and relationships with neighbours. Practicing respectful relationships with plants not only encourages healthy plant communities, but actively strengthens the personal relationships that support caring human communities. In learning about plants in the context of these complex relationships, we have come to better appreciate how central plants are to northern peoples.