Tanina Williams to offer workshop on plant-based medicine 

Mount Currie entrepreneur looking to test-run Joffre Lakes business plan at March 16 SLCC event

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Nature’s medicine Tanina Williams will lead a workshop on plant-based medicine on March 16 at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
  • Photo submitted
  • Nature’s medicine Tanina Williams will lead a workshop on plant-based medicine on March 16 at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

With interest in holistic medicine booming, Mount Currie's Tanina Williams is hoping to attract the Whistler crowd to a workshop focused on storytelling and plant-based medicine.

Having recently won a business pitch competition aimed at Indigenous entrepreneurs (see Pique "Plant-based tour of Joffre Lakes, anyone?" Oct. 13), Williams described the workshop as an important step in establishing her business, which will provide plant-based tours of the Joffre Lakes area.

The workshop will be held on March 16 at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.

While it's still early in the year (and many plants are not yet available), Williams said her mother, who is scheduled to share lessons, would focus on plants that can be found close to home.

"In my yard, I have dandelions and yarrow," explained Williams. "Dandelions are an amazing plant for every single organ in your body, and then yarrow is good for topical things, like mosquito bites and bee stings and stuff like that."

Williams said that her mother—whose Ucwalmícwts name is Saopalaz—has always stressed that plants have a way of finding you. "One of the things that my mother always says is that when plants are right in your vicinity, they probably are a plant you need," said Williams, adding that her mother uses between 15 and 20 plants, all local, in her practice, and has even used them to recover from a dog bite that left her with nerve damage.

"She made tea every day and drank five cups from (it)," explained Williams. "She uses the devil's-club style ... and she actually doesn't struggle with pain. (It) really healed her body." 

The workshop is a family affair, as Williams' father—who was recently inducted into the B.C Sports Hall of Fame's new Indigenous Sports Gallery for bull riding—will be on hand to share traditional Lil'wat Nation stories.

"My dad's Ucwalmicwts is Ha7ya," said Williams. "He's an amazing storyteller, (and) he also teaches Ucwalmicwts at Xet'olacw Community School."

Williams said her father would share stories in both Ucwalmícwts and English, she added.

With the workshop coming together, Williams said she is looking to get her business underway this spring, though she plans to start small and work primarily with Sea to Sky residents at first.

"We want to start off light," she explained. "We just want to do local tours in our first year." 

Climate change also factors into that decision, as the warming planet has led to more uncertainty when it comes to when one can expect certain plants to bloom, she said.

"Because our climate has changed so much, plants have shifted the time of year they come out now," said Williams.

"A couple years ago, things were like two weeks ahead. They are (now) ... coming out earlier and earlier."

Williams and her mother will therefore use this year to figure out their strategy for future years.

An Aboriginal support worker with School District 48 in Whistler schools, Williams said she's hoping a wide range of people come to the workshop.

Kids, she added, are also welcome. "I teach about medicinal plants to kids in my job, and they really like it," she said.

For presale tickets to the March 16 event—which will be held between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre—contact Williams directly at (604) 698-5767; tickets will also be available at the door.

The workshop is $20 per adult, $10 for seniors, and $5 for children.

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