Exploring Plant-Human Relationships Among Indigenous University Students Using a Circle Method

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Adair, Tiffany
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University of Guelph

Objectified in mainstream society, plants are often undervalued for their essential roles in ecological and human health, undermining efforts to protect their habitat. Traditionally, many Turtle Island Indigenous cultures have views of plants as autonomous beings that are as worthy of respect as any human. Colonialism and climate change have threatened this relationship. What do plant and human relationships look like today amongst Indigenous students at the University of Guelph? A modified sharing circle method was devised for specific, professional use in landscape architecture. This was used to collect stories from participants. Nineteen questions were asked of participants and resulted in a key finding that connection to the land is an essential factor in Indigenous people reclaiming their identity and culture. Plants act as a doorway for this to occur, providing a sense of safety and vital physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health benefits.

Indigenous, Indigenous student, sharing circle, talking circle, plant relationships, plants, colonization, reconciliation, earth emotions, ecological grief, kinship, more-than-human, plant-human relationships, circle method, landscape architecture, landscape design, climate change, turtle island, reclamation, First Nations, Inuit, Metis