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http://www.chathamdailynews.ca/2015/06/ … and-health
Theresa Johnson points to a broadleaf green plant with her ornately carved wooden walking stick.
“The plantain is one of our main medicinal plants,” she said. “It's good for bug bites, burns, arthritis – it's like a cure-all.”
Johnson lead a dozen people along the three kilometre Weelateexung Trail that winds its way along the banks of the Thames River on the lands of the Delaware Nation of Moraviantown.
She pointed out a number of plants, clover, stinging nettle, jewelweed, lambs-tail quarter and dandelions that dot the delicately balanced Carolinian forest ecosystem where bank swallows build their nests and at-risk tree species stretch towards the sky.
Johnson's walk was part of an artistic open jam celebration marking Aboriginal Day and fundraising for the trail's upkeep and expansion.
“We want to stop the eroding of the river bank and keep all the native habitat and create habitat for endangered species,” said Brock Stonefish.
Stonefish was recruited by Darren Jacobs, the main curator of the trail, to help with the planting and seeding of 1,000 trees and three acres of prairie tall grass over the last two years.
Over the last three seasons Jacobs and a number of volunteers have transformed the trail into an educational journey incorporating traditional language and ecology.
“It kind of focuses on the species at risk that live along the river, like the eastern sand darter in the river,” Jacobs said. “And there's a sign for wild ginger, which is a medicine that a lot of people still use around here.”
Jacobs said the path is also an opportunity to invite non-native members of the community to visit the area and enjoy nature, as well as dispelling some of the stigma attached to native communities.
“It would be nice to get people down here, the general public, because years ago when I was younger, people seemed scared to come around here,” said Jacobs. “We want to bring people in and share with them.”
Jarmo Jalava, Carolinian Canada Coalition director of ecosystem said the trail was given an award for conservation for combining conservation, ecological restoration, cultural heritage and nature education.
“The trail is one of my favourite trails in southwestern Ontario for sure,” said Jalava, who was leading a hike. “It combines all these different aspects to connect with a broader audience, not just the conservation community but the general community.”
The free day-long event included a fire maker challenge, traditional feast, butterfly hike and live entertainment with all donations going to support the upkeep and expansion of the trail.
The trail is located at 22844 Centre Road on the Delaware Nation of Moraviantown community east of Thamesville.