Experiencing four distinct seasons is a powerful way to tell time. Each season brings with it an element of life and death and teaches us to embrace change.  Many of us think of the seasons in terms of what we wear or how the weather affects our commute; however, how many of us stop to think about how the seasons affect our diet and medicines?

Increasingly, we buy our medicines and our food from grocery stores. When we walk into a store and find all that we need, it becomes difficult to notice the true impact of the seasons on what we eat and how we feel. As science progresses, technology continues to fuel the advancement of hybrid seeds resistant to Mother Nature’s woes. Technology supports farming machinery to achieve greater yields of large-scale crops, ensuring the things we enjoy consuming are constantly available on store shelves.  The convenience of shopping disconnects us from the spirit of our food, and ultimately distracts us from the stories that Mother Nature is telling us, especially through her gifts of the changing seasons.

When does winter truly end? How long is spring, really? What if we let go of the idea that the answers to these questions come from a calendar, and instead, turn our collective gaze toward nature? Consider that winter ends when the Red Squirrel awakens and begins to nibble Maple Tree’s stems, signalling the maple sap to begin to flow. Spring arrives when coltsfoot pops out its mysterious yellow flower before its signature leaves arrive. Trilliums and trout lilies tell us how long we have until spring disappears. And as soon as it gets too warm, we learn that summer has arrived. Raspberries emerge telling us summer is ending and it is time to load up on fat stores with Wintergreen signalling our last chance at berries before the deep snow arrives. All these plants are also gifts of Mother Nature and were once received as wild foods and wild medicines, by human beings.

When one remembers what to eat, in what season, and by what is available in nature, then one also begins to see the changes in what Mother Nature can offer as weather patterns shift. To truly understand the weather and the climate, one must return to nature. When one grows a garden and watches peas whither in the early spring heat, or the squash shrivel due to drought, or apple blossoms bloom too early, only to be killed by frost; when one mourns another season without fruit, one can no longer remove oneself from Mother Nature’s narrative.

As someone who gardens and forages, I feel a deep connection to the seasons and all their changes. I may not fully understand the magnitude of the impact of the seasons, but I feel the struggles of Mother Nature; she reminds me of my connection to her well-being. For me, the way I understand how I can be of service to healing the Earth means to first to live with and through Mother Nature’s cycles; to experience her cycles with all my senses; and to accept that to re-learn her ways, I must get away from the fluorescent lights and the straight, cropped garden rows, and bear witness to the messages found throughout the forest landscape.

I invite you to choose to get familiar with food and medicines that are in season and to embrace the cycle of seasonal changes. Then, and only then, can we truly remember how to love Mother Nature and steward the land in ways that can help us heal the planet and humanity.

Edible wild evening primrose











By Tawny Stowe


Photo Credits:

Edible wild evening primrose photo: Tawny Stowe

Header Photo: Karl Heinz Muller, Unsplash

Study after study has highlighted how climate change affects women and girls more adversely, and in different ways, than it affects men and boys. Fewer studies, however, explore the impact of climate change on gender roles. Furthermore, approaches to climate adaptation need to better reflect the growing potential for changes to traditional gender roles due to climate change.

Climate adaptation “refers to actions that reduce the negative impact of climate change, while taking advantage of potential new opportunities.” Adaptation planning can help in managing the impacts of climate change on gender roles in Indigenous communities while shifting away from victimizing Indigenous populations. Instead the focus is on how “community assets and strengths could help to motivate and sustain climate action.” Incorporating a gender-responsive approach to climate adaptation would offer insights into how Indigenous communities are adapting traditional gender roles to climate change, and possibly shifting them in new ways.

An analysis of food systems and food insecurity is one place to start when considering climate adaptation and gender roles. An example of adapting women’s traditional roles in food preparation with community-based education and economic sustainability is the Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Organization (ICEDO) educational program and training facility centred on country food processing. The ICEDO courses teach aspects of “value-added processing” of country foods, including char, muskox, and moose, to show how to make the best use of “portions of meat that are often discarded” and instructs participants in developing “the knowledge and skills required to maximize the commercial viability” of these foods. These educational programs address food insecurity which is especially prevalent in Arctic communities due to the effects of climate change, including earlier melting of winter snowfall.

The call for gender-sensitive responses to the effects of climate change is not new. However, when gender is considered in relation to climate change adaptation and Indigenous peoples, as in the previous example, it remains focused heavily on normative gender binaries, of male and female, and traditional gender roles held by men and women. Experiences of discrimination of people who identify as being from 2SLGBTQQIA+ populations, often prevent them from accessing the supports that could assist them to manage adverse climate effects, including health impacts.

A gender-responsive approach to climate change adaptation would be a step beyond gender-sensitivity, and could more effectively include gender diversity and appreciate the impact of climate change on changing gender roles. A gender-responsive approach would hold the potential to break through conventional approaches to gender analysis that are limited by gender binaries and could recognize how different people experience the impacts of climate change in diverse ways. In turn, services and supports could be designed with a better understanding of the answers to “who matters, who decides, and who benefits” while recognizing people in the way that they want to be recognized. More research is needed to better appreciate and understanding the impact of climate change on gender and changing gender roles due to the impacts of climate change.


By Leela Viswanathan


(Image Credit: Ives Ives, Unsplash)

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (COTTFN), Cambium Indigenous Professional Services, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, Conservation Ontario, Canadian Environmental Law Association and Green Communities Canada are hosting a 5-part webinar series on an Indigenous Led Flood Plain Mapping Project.

Each session will explore approaches and community-engagement processes employed through the COTTFN Flood Plain Mapping project, completed over the last year. This provides a learning opportunity for Indigenous community members, and environmental professionals. Sessions run weekly online from Feb 23- March 23, 2022

Session One introduces participants to Watershed Management from the Conservation Authority perspective. It provides an overview of Climate Change Impacts on Floodplain Mapping and highlights the importance of having a community and Indigenous perspectives meaningfully included in this process.

Watch the first webinar on February 23rd below (1:02:21):

Link to Slides From Webinar: click here.


(Information source: Green Communities Canada, YouTube, Intro to Floodplain Mapping & Indigenous Relationships to Water)

(Image source: Poster from Indigenous Led Community Floodplain Mapping Project Eventbrite page)

Health Canada released the Health of Canadians in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action report in February 2022. Drawing connections between climate change and health, the report explores, in detail, seven key risks of climate change affecting the health of Canadians. Chapter 2 focuses on the impact of these climate change risks on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.

The seven risks of climate change affecting the health of Indigenous peoples, as examined in the report, are:

  • Natural hazards
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Air quality
  • Food safety and security
  • Water quality, safety, and security
  • Infectious diseases
  • Health systems

When examining each risk, the report also provides examples of how Indigenous communities are addressing these risks through their communities’ own planning and climate mitigation efforts. In the coming months, the Indigenous Climate Hub Blog will draw from the report and explore each of these risks for their impacts on the health of Indigenous peoples.

According to the report, the limitations to the data, and therefore the prevalence of uncertainty regarding the connections between climate change and health, are associated with the “amount of existing evidence,” and the quality of that evidence. The intention of the Health of Canadians in a Changing Climate (2022) report is to facilitate the development of more “integrated knowledge” to enable federal, provincial, and local governments to “prepare for climate change.” How Indigenous governments benefit from this report will be worth considering as well.


By Leela Viswanathan


(Image credit: Biegun Wschodni, Unsplash)