This story is part of Carbon Cache , The Narwhal’s ongoing series about nature-based climate solutions. When Leigh Joseph, a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) ethnobotanist, walks through the woods along a stream, she knows she’ll come across some cottonwood trees. When infused into oil, the buds of the toothed, triangular leaves can help with muscle aches and congestion. As she moves from the riparian area deeper into the forest, Joseph may come across stands of stinging nettle. She knows these plants are favoured by local red admiral and satyr comma butterflies when they’re ready to lay their eggs. Wandering through the woods near Brackendale, B.C., about a 40-minute drive south of the popular ski resort municipality of Whistler, Joseph can differentiate between textures of bark, the shapes of needles and the tangle of plants that grow in specific, telltale relationships. She harvests plants for her own use and for her skincare company, Sḵwálwen Botanicals. For Joseph, the act of accessing an intact forest is integral to the renewal of Indigenous knowledge systems, something she can see in action when she’s out in the wilds with her children. Joseph teaches about plant harvesting in the Cheakamus River watershed and surrounding forests, where […]

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