Reconnecting with Nature with a Herbalist Plant Walk

We first meet Lori Snyder as she guides our interviewer along an interactive nature walk in Burnaby’s Central Park. She points out various plants that call the park their home, and expresses gratitude for the land we are on. Identifying as Métis, Lori’s ancestry is of the Tsuut’ina and the Cree, the Nipissing, the Nakota, the Anishinaabe, Dakota, and Powhatan nations. She is passionate about reconnecting people with nature, and believes that humans have the responsibility to reciprocate nature’s service to humanity by caring and learning about the plants in our environment. This includes getting a good book or downloading a phone app to identify plants and asking questions that include: “Can I eat you? Are you a medicine? Could you be used for dyes? Could I weave you?” Lori says it’s all about cultivating a relationship with nature and appreciating the fact that they not only give us oxygen, but can also inspire us. For example, she proposes that we plant more vine maple in our city, since the maple tree is a native plant that plays a critical role in our local ecosystem. Its leaves fall to the forest floor, leaving a blanket of nourishment for other vegetation such as the salmonberry plant. The vine maple ultimately produces a place to both play and gather delicious foods.

As a little girl, Lori was inspired by her next-door neighbour to learn about the plants that she wasn’t familiar with. Her neighbour would turn to books to identify these plants, and taught children like Lori to do the same as they would hike up the back trails to Alice Lake. Lori would carry that legacy and lesson into her later life, studying aromatherapy, herbology, and permaculture. When she turned fifty, she felt a calling to do the work she is doing now, which is to share her knowledge and understanding of the living world. Lori has also extended her love for nature into advocacy for cleaning our cities and a commitment towards decreasing her carbon footprint, with efforts to cut down her plastic usage and stop her use of laundry detergent. Lori says that making a positive environmental impact doesn’t necessarily mean recycling, but it means focusing on the other “R’s,” including reducing, refusing, repurposing, reusing, and reinventing.

Throughout the nature walk, it is clear that Lori feels most at peace surrounded by all the living creatures that thrive amongst us. Lori is generously hosting a free Herbalist Plant Walk during the Burnaby Festival of Learning and will be sharing her expertise so that others can derive the same joy in co-existing with nature, which is ultimately where we all came from.

Burnaby Festival of Learning
Indigenous Knowledge Keeper and Herbalist Plant Walk May 9, 2021 |  7:00pm-8:15pm
The 2021 festival has ended – thank you to everyone who was able to virtually attend.