Fitting in, in the Slocan Valley

Most of my postings make it sound like we are completely isolated here. I did enjoy having time as a family when we arrived but we are by no means alone. The valley in which we live, the town, even the neighborhood, are all full of very interesting people and things to do. The thing is, everybody is so very different from each other.

I’ve been trying to learn more about the area, reading about the Doukhobors (Russian pacifists who were exiled and setup communities in the valley where we live), the Sons of Freedom (a sect of the Doukhobors who set fire to their own homes while standing naked in protest to the government, had their children taken away to residential schools and who made terror attacks), also reading about the Japanese interment camps that were setup to take Japanese during WWII (but the Japanese had to build their own homes with no insulation and had little food the first winter). This valley has a lot of history and I don’t remember learning about it in school.

One thing I don’t know much about is aboriginal people. So when my sister sent me the link for a free 8-week program learning about aboriginal culture I jumped at it. Topics to be discussed were herbal baths and ethnobotanical education, perfect! I signed up without another thought. Two weeks later I looked up the dates to put them in my calendar and came across another part of their website. It reads, “Who: self-identified Indigenous cis women and their families, as well as other marginalized populations such as trans, 2 spirited and intersex women.” Apparently, the course is about learning to deal with trauma. This is about the trauma the aboriginal people faced in their lives or past generations. While I am very glad this workshop exists, I am also very glad that I didn’t show up there the first day as unaware as I was! How embarrassed I would have been to be selfishly there just to learn about herbs in their culture.

Some of the people around are very different from those that I’ve met before, especially in Europe. I love Europeans (why I lived there for 11 years and live with one here!) and I am Canadian and grew up in Canada, but these are not Europeans or Vancouverites. There are real hippies here, many people who grew weed for years and years to sell (and who think our herbs are weed despite our explanations), others who take drugs for spiritual journeys, and those who arrived here buying a section of forest and did absolutely everything themselves by hand. Some people live in Nelson and see others every day; some live on their remote land and see others only when absolutely necessary.

I’ve had people tell me I look different, maybe that’s my Belgian heritage, and maybe some think our commercial approach is be boring, but we are having no issues making friends and really like and respect our new friends and neighbors.

The thing about living here in the Slocan Valley and the Kootenays is that because people are so different, as long as you respect them and their history and differences, it seems that you can live together and appreciate each other.

As for selling herbs, no matter their background, most people respect their bodies and mental health. Therefore, for people here and elsewhere, we need to find out which herbs help people instead of just what is easiest to grow.

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