In First Nations culture, medicinal plants were valued and respected for their healing abilities. A prayer (1) of respect and appreciation for the healing properties of the plant and its willingness to share them, was often given before harvesting. For many Aboriginal People, traditional medicines remain a gift of the creator and should not be bought or sold.
First Nations believe a respectful connection with the plant is critical to the act of healing. The individual must believe in the healing properties of the medicine or the healing powers of the plant are lost. Many Aboriginal people believe this connection is lost in modern medicine and that there is a need in communities to reconnect with traditional medicinal practices and attitudes towards healing (2).
Using these medicines outside of the cultural context (3) - and possibly without the proper respect and understanding - can render the medicines ineffective and potentially, harmful to the user.
Knowledge of the medicinal properties and care of culturally important traditional medicines is traditionally passed on by the elders (4) of each generation. Many First Nations have demonstrated an increasing interest in the revival and use of traditional knowledge. By re-connecting with their traditional knowledge about the methods and ways of traditional harvesting, First Nations groups are finding that they can re-establish a respect for nature and pride in traditional beliefs and values (5).