“Without plants, we wouldn’t be the same unique people” – A look at the broader importance of plants in Makkovik, Nunatsiavut (Labrador, Canada)

OBERNDORFER, Erica - Carleton University (Ottawa)
Carol GEAR - Nunatsiavut Government (Inuit Community of Makkovik)
Gita LJUBICIC - Carleton University (Ottawa)
Jeremy LUNDHOLM - Saint Mary's University (Halifax)

Plants are vitally important to peoples in the Canadian North. In the Inuit Community of Makkovik, on Labrador’s north coast, plants make life and livelihoods possible for Makkovimiut (residents of Makkovik): “Without plants, we wouldn’t be the same unique people” (Mary B. Andersen). Plants as food, material, medicine, and habitat provide the means for self-sufficiency in a remote region where people “do for ourselves” (Elder Annie Evans). In documenting plant knowledge in Makkovik, we are also learning how plant practices nurture local culture and community well-being. Makkovimiut plant knowledge is practiced as part of daily life, and includes wooding, berrypicking, snowshoe-making, smoking trout, and tending plants. These practices are directed by cultural norms emphasising respect for land and wildlife, respect for Elders and neighbours, and the centrality of sharing. Through actively practicing plant knowledge, Makkovimiut reinforce the cultural values, techniques, and teaching traditions that maintain an interdependent and caring community.