Ethnobotanist Nancy Turner will be honoured Saturday by the District of Saanich with the Freedom of the Municipality

Ethnobotanist Nancy Turner will be honoured Saturday by the District of Saanich with the Freedom of the Municipality

Ethnobotanist to be given Saanich’s highest honour


Centuries ago, the benefit that’s about to be bestowed upon Nancy Turner would have allowed her to herd sheep through town, be drunk in public without the threat of arrest and be protected from naval conscription. These days, being honoured as a freeman of a municipality comes with more subtle perks.

“Apparently it gives you free parking, but of course we don’t have meters in Saanich. And they put you at the top of the voter’s list, but you don’t get any extra votes,” Mayor Frank Leonard said with a laugh. “So it’s pretty much ceremonial recognition.”

Turner, an ethnobotanist with 40 years of research and practical work in her field behind her, will receive the Freedom of the Municipality from Saanich on Saturday.

The honour is the highest that can be formally bestowed upon a citizen, and recognizes accomplishments and community contributions.

“She’s done great work for the municipality, not to mention her national and international recognition for what she does as a scientist,” Leonard said.

Ethnobotany, as described by Turner, is the study of the relationships between people and plants. As well, she studies ethnoecology, the study of the relationships between people and their environments.

Much of her work has stayed in B.C., where she spent countless months throughout her career living alongside First Nations communities and learning about their harvesting and processing of native plants.

“There’s often an impression that the only kind of knowledge is the western, academic, scientific knowledge. And yet, people who have lived for thousands of years in one place, they build up an amazingly rich knowledge and understanding of practices relating to those particular places,” Turner said. “Indigenous people have a lot to tell us about what’s happening out on the land and water. They see, every day, the changes at the local level, in the flowering of species, the appearances of birds, or what’s happening to the river. They’re more aware of these than most of us are.”

Turner has documented her work, namely what she’s been taught by First Nations elders, as a way to bridge the gap of understanding when it comes to ecology.

“The First Peoples here in British Columbia have always been called ‘hunter-gatherers’ in anthropology … but we’ve learned that there’s a whole new way of looking at the way people managed their environments and resources, and it’s a far more complex system than is implied in ‘hunter-gatherer,’” Turner said.

The 63-year-old environmental studies prof at the University of Victoria has lived in Saanich for most of her life, and has been given high honours in the past. Last year, she was appointed to the Order of Canada, while in 1999 she was appointed to the Order of B.C.

“I feel really honoured by this (freeman) recognition, but I prefer to look at it as a recognition of the wise teachers that I’ve had and the knowledge holders,” Turner said. “I see that as being the most important aspect of the honour.”

Turner will be named freeman at a ceremony June 18 at Saanich municipal hall (770 Vernon Ave.) at 11 a.m.

Freemen of Saanich

• George and Constance Pearkes (1968)

• Freeman King (1973)

• Les Passmore (1975)

• Hugh Keenleyside (1985)

• Bruce Hutchison (1990)

• Ken Middleton (1992)

• Hugh Curtis (2002)

• Ron Lou-Poy (2006)

• John Pendray (2006)

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Andrea Lewis (left), board member of the Shoreline Medical Society, receives a $3,000 cheque from Andrew Hansen, owner of Boondocks Bar and Grill. They are joined by Elizabeth Rhoades, executive director Shawna Walker, as well as board members Richard Flader and Andrew Tidman. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney bar owner helps doctor recruitment for Saanich Peninsula clinics

Boondocks Bar and Grill raised $3,000 in May for Shoreline Medical Society

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read