My name is Tess Duncan and I’m from Winnipeg

I really liked going to Assiniboine Forest and learning whilst surrounded by the plants and nature there. This program definitely focussed on land based teaching which I really appreciated. I think that if you’re learning about nature and plants you should be outside where you can see them full of life as opposed to in a classroom looking at photographs of them.

My favourite place in the park was the fire circle and the Indigenous garden. The Indigenous garden was full of Indigenous plants such as willow, sage, cedar, tobacco etc. It was really nice to see all of these plants thriving in their natural habitat. After visiting the Indigenous garden we went to see the fire circle. Unfortunately, due to the fire bans we weren’t able to have a fire but sitting in the space was really nice. We were surrounded by Indigenous carvings and art that were meant to spark inspiration for story telling.

To “walk softly”. This is a teaching we were told by Elder Mary. She told us when she was a little girl her father told her to walk softly. She said that this was to demonstrate the care and respect you have for the land, if you respect the land you will walk softly amongst it.

I’m a highschool graduate, attending the University of Winnipeg in the next coming years with the hope to obtain a degree in environmental sciences and botany. I think it’s important for people to know that there are many resources for people who would like to take this career path and it is a very demanding field due to the current state of things globally.

I really love gardening during the summer. This year I planted a three sisters garden, which consists of beans, corn, and gete okosomin; a squash seed that’s been passed down through Inidgenous communities for 800 years. I've been gardening a lot this summer and through MPIY I am able to garden alot at work as well.

I’m really proud of all my house plants. I really enjoy taking care of all of them. Over the years I've collected many different species of plants so I am quite proud of my plant collection. When you have to care for something like that, especially because I need to tend to them daily, I find that it makes you appreciate them a lot more.

I grow a lot of vegetables in my garden. When I harvest them and use them for cooking I feel very connected to the land. I have had to learn about the patterns of the land, and tend to the seeds even before they sprouted to have that food. Spending time outside gardening makes me feel really connected to the land and helps me provide for myself as well.

I hope to finish my Degree in Winnipeg and then move to a small town; living in a small to medium sized house with a huge yard for all my gardening. I hope to work as a lab and a land botanist, so I would be able to conduct a lot of my own studies from home and spend a lot of time working outdoors whilst still getting my microbiology fix from lab work.

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A poem written by Tess: 

She sat at the kitchen table, bathing in the pale glow of the moonlight slithering through the crack in the curtains, painting her complexion in admiration. The espresso machine hissed, momentarily breaking the tempo of silent-filled symphonies floating through the entirety of the house. Moments later she rose from her seat, worm sneakers ambling across the floorboards. They were coated in what seemed to be a growing layer of dust and bitter ash. She now stood over the kitchen counter, filling what seemed to be the last clean dish in the cabinet. She raised the mug to her lips, enjoying the warmth on her skin as she strolled over to the curtains once again; placing a fragile finger on the string. Soon a white light flooded the room, greeting each and every crack in the poorly painted walls. She ran for the door with the need to feel this light on her skin. She kicked off her shoes and opened the door. As soon as she leapt off the step and into the grass, she felt the life twirling up in between her toes. She stood there for what felt to be an eternity, remembering those of her people who lay below her; their souls sprinkled upon thousands of stars plastered across the sky watching over her. She danced there, underneath the solemn spotlight of the moon, feeling alive in the presence of the life that exists beyond her front door. Miigwetch nihki-pīhsim


The Indigenous Youth Storytelling program is supported by The Conservation Trust through Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.