Ethnobotany Garden

Main Project Contact:
Annika Trimble

Project Start Date:

Project End Date:

Project Name:
WESTERN ARCTIC RESEARCH CENTRE ETHNOBOTANY GARDEN: Highlighting the plants of the Mackenzie Delta and their traditional uses

ARI Team:
Annika Trimble
Pippa Seccombe-Hett
ARI Technicians and Summer Students
Local Volunteers

The goal of this educational garden is to highlight the traditional uses of plants found in the Mackenzie Delta region. Using traditional knowledge from both the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in, we see that the plants are not just a part of the scenery: they are food, fuel, tools, medicine, and more. They are critical to life on the land.

Ethnobotany is the study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their uses. In this garden, you will find traditional names and knowledge from the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit perspectives regarding plants which span the traditional territories of both groups, and which helped them survive for millennia. While the garden features plants from a variety of local habitats, it is not meant to be a comprehensive collection of local species, but a representation of those plants which are the most common and important to the people of this area. 


The goal of this garden is to highlight the traditional uses of plants found in the Mackenzie Delta region. The space is meant to be used by visitors and residents alike, from the very young to the very wise. For those with limited access to the land, the garden features plants from a variety of local habitats: wet spruce forests, shrubby tundra, dry birch stands, and rocky outcrops. The garden highlights the traditional names and uses of these plants, and underscores the important connection between plants and people in this region.


This has been a collaborative effort, from preparing the space, gathering and caring for the plant materials, developing the interpretive materials, and guiding groups through the educational garden – various community organizations and college programs have contributed to its success.  Guided tours and classes are offered to visitors as well as local organizations such as daycares, school groups, college classes, and elder programs.



Task Date
Education Garden Concept Developed 2013
Garden Beds Built 2014 - 2015
Planting 2015 - 2017
Ethnobotany Tours Offered 2016 - present
Interpretive Signs and Gazebo Installed 2017
Release of Webpage with Virtual Tour of Garen and
Additional Cultural Context

External Partners:
Gwich'in Tribal Council - Department of Gwich'in Culture and Heritage
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation - Inuvialuit Cultural Centre
Aurora College - Environment and Natural Resources Technology Program
Inuvik Community Greenhouse
Canadian Museum of Nature
Canadian Museum of History
Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program

Plants, Ethnobotany, Language, Traditional Knowledge, Education, Garden, Berries, Shrubs, Trees

Start Date: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2013