There aren’t many places in Manitoba where you can see carnivorous plants, brilliant orchids, and medicinal Ojibwe plants all growing in the same location. The Brokenhead Wetland has all those things and more. That’s why for nearly a decade local non-profit organization, Debwendon, has been working to protect this ecosystem and to educate people about why it’s so important.
With 8 carnivorous plants, 28 orchid species, 23 rare plants, and the extremely rare calcareous fen nestled inside it, the Brokenhead Wetland was declared an ecological reserve by the province in 2005.
“These aren’t plants that grow in a ditch,” says Peggy Bainard Acheson, board member for Debwendon. “They grow in a pristine habitat that hasn’t been disturbed.”
But it’s not just the unique plants that make this ecosystem so special. “The area is significant to the Brokenhead Ojibwe Nation,” Bainard Acheson says. “They’ve used the area for 300 years to collect their traditional and medicinal plants.”
The name Debwendon means “trust” in Ojibwe, and the organization has worked closely with the Brokenhead First Nations to honour their history and tradition while trying to make the area more accessible and safe for the public. After many years of effort and countless hours of volunteer commitment, Debwendon is celebrating the grand opening of the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve interpretive trail on June 22nd.
“I think we can hardly believe it,” says Bainard Acheson. “We’ve had some setbacks over the years and now it’s all coming together and we’re just really excited.”
The trail is adjacent to the Ecological reserve, and focuses on both the cultural and botanical significance of the area.
“We wanted to build it in a way that it wouldn’t damage the wetland and it would be safe to take elders and children out to teach them about the area,” Bainard Acheson says.
The 1.6 kilometre self-guiding trail now has proper signage, picnic tables, washrooms, and a wigwam trailhead. The grand opening begins at 10am on June 22nd with a prayer and drummers from Brokenhead Ojibwe Nation, followed by tours of the trail itself.
The Brokenhead Wetland trail is about 2 kilometers north of Stead Road on highway 59 on the West side of the highway. Bainard Acheson says there should be some orchids and pitcher plants beginning to bloom at the grand opening, as well as many spring flowers still lingering.
For more information about the Brokenhead Wetland or the Grand opening of the interpretive trail visit the Debwendon website.