Shannon Smith

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Questions autochtones, Identité et patrimoine


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My name is Shannon Smith. I'm First Nations, Gitxsan. I am currently enrolled in a distance education classes trying to get my grade 12 dogwood. I'm striving to get my nurses degree in the future. Also, I'm editing one of my first writings of Young Adult Fiction and I'm hoping to have it published by Christmas of next year.

In 2013, Shannon's story, "Earth Gifts" won 4th place in the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge. Read Shannon's award-winning story here.


I lived in Prince Rupert my whole life. I like to think I have experienced a lot more in life then the average young adult. Some of which I hope no one would have to go through. From the age of 13 to 22 I struggled with alcohol addiction.

In my time of healing I needed something that would hold my mind, bring out my creativity, and bring me peace. So, I took a great interest in my culture. In learning how to make things, learning the proper steps, and most importantly learning how to respect what I am doing or taking. Upon learning all that, I was forced to notice the ignorance of some people who went out to do these things as well.

One day when I went out cedar pulling what I saw truly made me sad. Tree after tree, side by side were stripped. Some trees had even been fully stripped, taken greedily by the person who was last in that area. Tiny baby trees that should have been left to mature and grow were stripped clean, and to make it worse, the tree being so small had frail cedar. So, many strips were left lying on the forest ground.

When stripping cedar you are never to take more then quarter of the tree, otherwise you will be hurting it. If you are unsure about a tree, if it is good or not, you do not just strip it. You take a small tiny piece from it as a tester. Also, you only take what you need. Mother Nature does not have to bless us with her gifts, we should respect them.

I also took notice on that day that a hard-to-find medicinal plant looked like it was thoughtlessly taken. The branches on the plant were broken and the roots torn up from the ground.

As important as it is to make that salve, lotion, tea, ointment, or whatever you are making, at that very moment, take your time doing it right. Then next time you can go back and harvest from that plant, once it has had enough time to grow again.

I believe if someone is unsure of the proper ways to do something and it is something they really want to do they should seek out classes. If your community doesn't have classes for it research online the proper and improper ways to do it.

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela