Unit 4 - The Social Importance of Canada's Forests

Lesson 1: Cultural and Spiritual Importance

Earlier in this course, we learned how Canada's Aboriginal peoples relied on the forest to provide the necessities of life.

Even today, some still use the forest for traditional hunting, trapping, and gathering activities.

The forest also holds great cultural and spiritual significance for Canada's First Nations peoples who traditionally believe that the earth is a living being that must be respected and cared for. They believe that humans are stewards of the natural world and that we should live in a sustainable manner, adapting our needs to the capacities of the ecosystem. As such, forests should be respected and protected. Many forest products are still used in traditional medicine and religious ceremonies.

  Now watch this video which shows how important the forests are to Canada's Indigenous people.

Forests also hold great cultural and spiritual importance for Indigenous peoples elsewhere in the world. Many traditional cultures are deeply connected to forests, which often provide the venue for religious, social and healing ceremonies. For example, in Bali, the trees of the Sacred Monkey Forest are considered holy and used in various spiritual practices. For the Pygmy people of Africa, the forest is considered to be the source of all abundance.

A totem pole is a spiritual figure sculpted from trees, likely by Canada's Haida people.