Walk of learning
Group learns about traditional medicines and teachings through KACL
KACL provides education on traditional healing methods.
Jazmin Romaniuk said she’s a big believer in talking and singing to plants when she’s gathering traditional medicines.
On Friday, July 7, she and a small group of people were collecting leaves of the Myrica gale plant, commonly known as sweetgale, on the shores of Rabbit Lake near the Kenora Rowing Club. Dragonflies darted overhead as people took off their shoes and got their feet wet, a relief in the hot July weather.
Romaniuk, the chief executive officer of the Ekinamadiwin Healing Centre, was hired by the Kenora Association for Community Living (KACL) to teach traditional knowledge.
“I have the extra emphasis on the scientific aspects, so I can translate the best I can what the elders say about medicine to what doctors say about medicine, and vice versa. It’s really valuable information,” she said.
Yet Romaniuk said writing her master’s thesis on boreal forest flora was a struggle since traditional knowledge and science don’t mesh together.
“I had to be really disciplined, really rigid, and I had to get steered to make sure I stayed scientific, because I have a predilection to be traditional. It’s just my nature,” she said.
After giving an offering of tobacco to the plant, Romaniuk showed how to pull the leaves upward off the stem, releasing a lemony scent. Looking closer at the leaves, they have miniscule yellow dots that show the plant is breathing and aerating.
That lemon scent means the sweetgale leaves are high in limonenes, a compound with known anti-anxiety effects, making it ideal for tea. Romaniuk said tea made from the leaves has a floral taste like green tea and also helps people have vivid dreams.
Romaniuk also said she hopes there are more gatherings like this one throughout the summer.
“Even though there were only a few of us, the teachings that we shared were hard-wired teachings that are in all of us,” she said. “We know water brings life, we know that babies sit in water and we know how powerful water plants are. We want to be really mindful about plants that we pick out of the water.”
The next gathering through KACL will involve gathering plants that give lots of energy to make Kenora-style root beer, Romaniuk said.
Looking further, she said “I pray that one day all of the medicine people can come together here in Kenora, and we can all talk in a loving way about sharing our knowledge.
Jazmin Romaniuk (left) shows Johanna Hendrickson (right) how to gather Myrica gale leaves, commonly known as sweetgale, on the shores of Rabbit Lake on Friday, July 7. Sweetgale is a traditional medicine that grows in water.