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Nancy Turner

Hakai Research Chair
Environmental Studies

Distinguished Professor and Hakai Professor in Ethnoecology, Nancy Turner is an ethnobotanist whose research integrates the fields of botany and ecology with anthropology, geography and linguistics, among others. She is interested in the traditional knowledge systems and traditional land and resource management systems of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in western Canada. Nancy has worked with First Nations elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 45 years, collaborating with Indigenous communities to help document, retain and promote their traditional knowledge of plants and habitats, including Indigenous foods, materials and medicines, as well as language and vocabulary relating to plants and environments. Her interests also include the roles of plants and animals in narratives, ceremonies, language and belief systems.  Currently, Nancy is working on several research and writing projects. As the Hakai Chair in Ethnoecology, a position funded by the Tula Foundation, she is a member of an inter-disciplinary researchers working on the Central Coast of British Columbia. She works collaboratively with the Heiltsuk Nation and Simon Fraser University in the Hunter Island area examining the complex web of relationships among people, plants, animals and ecosystems. She continues to visit and engage with Indigenous experts on plant use in many First Nations communities and to give presentations at national and international engagements. She remains active in organizations such as Global Diversity Foundation, Society of Ethnobiology, Society for Economic Botany, and Slow Food International.

Dr. Turner has authored, co-authored or co-edited over 25 books (most recently a two-volume book, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America, and Saanich Ethnobotany: Culturally Important Plants of the WSÁNEĆ People - co-authored with Richard Hebda,a textbook, Ethnobiology (E. N. Anderson, first editor); Plants of Haida Gwaii; The Earth’s Blanket; and “Keeping it Living”: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America – this last co-edited with Douglas Deur), and over 150 book chapters and peer-reviewed papers, and numerous other publications, both popular and academic.Dr. Turner has received a number of awards for her work, including: Richard Evans Schultes Award in Ethnobotany from the Healing Forest Conservancy, Washington DC (1997); Order of British Columbia, and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (both 1999). She is a Member of the Order of Canada (2009) and a Recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012).  Dr. Turner has received Honorary Doctorates from Vancouver Island University and University of British Columbia (both 2011) and the University of Northern British Columbia (2014). Her latest book has received the 2014 American Botanical Council's James A. Duke award, the 2015 Prose Award and is shortlisted for the 2015 BC Book Awards.