Balsam Poplar Love

I went out to the harvest grounds today to take advantage of the break in freezing weather. Glorious sunshine sparkling on 2-foot high snowfall, and the relative balminess of -8 degree air were not my primary motivations – I was Poplar Scouting!

This year will be a prolific season for the balsam poplar tree. While the trees appear lifeless, nestled snugly under thick coats of snow, their roots and heartwood are busy flowing and creating. On each tree, little buds boast golden drops of precious resin, the color of marigold petals.

I took many pictures but none of them did justice to the excitement I feel each year when the poplar trees herald the first whispers of spring.

(If anyone wants to teach me to take pictures of tiny buds against a snowy background I will trade you some balsam honey…)

There are still 2 weeks until the Balsam Harvest – it seems the sap flows earlier and earlier every year. This season we will have the marvelous Rebecca Smith, ClH, along with us. Rebecca is a former apprentice wrote her thesis on the Poplar family, and is an advocate for protecting the poplar trees of Calgary.

I’m also excited to be preparing our medicines outside this year, with an open fire crackling beside us, and hot herbal teas for warmth. Sharing the wonder of nature’s medicines and the honoring of the trees is a special blessing that brightens and shakes me every winter!

AHA Herbal Show, Swap n’ Sale at the 3rd Annual General Meeting

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017
Market on Macleod Atrium (7711 Macleod Trail SE)

A showcase for local herbalists, healers, gardening enthusiasts, botanists, mycologists and others who wish to share information/examples/displays related to nature or herbs with the community. Vendors can purchase booths for sales or marketing, and a swap table for gear, books and seeds will be organized.
Everyone is welcome to enjoy this event! AHA Members receive a free booth for the promotion of their business or display of whatever inspires them as a herbalist. Please contact to register for your free member’s booth or for more information. Also check out the Facebook event page. Specially-priced advanced tickets for the Alberta Herb Gathering 2018 will be available, as a fundraiser for the Gathering.

The History of Loom-Woven Metis Sashes

There is no way to describe how much I love my new loom! It’s a simple, honest tool that makes weaving so fun and fast. Although you can’t get that traditional, finger-woven look with a loom project, you can at least make a full sized sash in about 20 hours instead of 300.

The most famous Metis sashes now-a-days are woven with looms, specifically the Red River Sash pictured below. It is probably the most recognizable emblem of Metis culture in Canada (although some Easterners will tell you that it is a French Canadian invention, to which I must say, they are about half-right!).

(C) Winnipeg Free Press

Interestingly enough for Canadian history nerds, this most common of emblems is a debutante on the scene of traditional Metis sashes. Voyageur and other similar sashes were originally woven only by hand.

The story that was told to me is this. In the old days, women would weave beautiful handmade sashes and trade them to the Hudson’s Bay Company, who would sell them. Everyone wanted one of these sashes, and if they didn’t have a weaver in the family you could head on over to your nearest HBC trading post and buy one. Trade was brisk!

The talented women who made the sashes were grievously underpaid, making today’s equivalent of pennies-per-hour for their gorgeous handiwork! When the women decided to band together and demand more money, so the story goes, the Hudson’s Bay found that loom weavers could produce a similar-looking sash in a fraction of the time, and were willing to accept less money than the finger-weavers. The finger-weavers were replaced (Progress, you old tyrant!).

And that is the story of the cheaper-to-produce, but still beautiful, red river style sash as told to me.

Definitely a loom sash can be a work of art, but will always lack the craftsmanship of a finger-woven sash, which is quite possibly worth its weight in gold.

Meanwhile, as I wait for my next finger-weaving teacher to appear out of the mists of the ages, it’s nice to have a loom to be creative with. I’ll post more projects as I learn, and eventually I’ll post a pattern for the red river style sash that you can use at home on your own loom.


Plant Appreciation Picnic with the Alberta Herbalists Association

Sunday August 20, 2017, 12-4pm Bowness Park, NW Calgary 

Register Here

Join the Alberta Herbalists Association members and friends at Bowness Park for an afternoon of family friendly picnic’ing and plant appreciation! August is the perfect time to meet your local wild edible and medicinal herbs, and expert Herbalists will be on hand to teach you.

Bring yourself a picnic lunch and join in the fun! Learn from 3 different experts by following along on a Herb-walk, they will be sharing traditional and evidence-based knowledge about the wonders of plants. This is a great opportunity to build networks and create community with herb enthusiasts in our community.

All ages welcome! There will be some activities for everyone. Please bring water, frisbees, picnic blankets, umbrellas, or whatever else you need to be comfortable and have a great time in the August shade. Don’t forget to bring a cup so you can sample the delicious herbal iced teas!

Kalyn Kodiak will be there with Metis Fingerweaving bracelet-making station so you can make a souvenir to take home with you! Contact for more information.

NEW Workshops 2018!

Classes and tutorials happening in 2018. Check out our Events.

Pay-What-You-Can @ Calgary Herbal Student Clinic

March 20 & 22, April  24 & 26, 2018
*Closed for Summer May – August 2018
Consult a Student Herbalist by Donation


Care for Conditions of the Skin

Monday March 19, 2018 6-9pm
Covering common skin conditions and the herbs that help! Expert Guest Herbalist Zoe Lynne, ClH


Essential Clinical Skills for Healers

Monday April 23rd, 2018 6-9pm
Interpersonal and questioning skills combined for successful assessment in a healing practice.


Balsam Harvest & Medicine Making

Sunday Feb. 25, 2018
Learn all about Nature’s Band-aid, the Balsam Poplar!


CroppedHerbal Student Practicum 2017-2018

Week Nights  – Click link for list of practicum experiences

Calgary Iridology Tutorial (May 2018)

Fri, Sat & Sun, May 25 – 27 2018 10am-4:30pm Optional Practicum Clinic Sat. June 2

The Iridology Tutorial is a live, interactive learning experience suitable for students and practitioners at every experience level. Learn as a beginner or brush up on old skills with live subjects, loads of pictures and feedback on your technique. This Fast-Track Tutorial covers 8 lessons in 17 hours, and includes an personal Iridology Assessment conducted in class. Student practicum clinic on June 2nd is an opportunity to continue your learning, build real clinical skills and provide freedom for advancement.

More classes and practicums to come. Please bookmark and check back often. Or, contact to get on the mailing list.

If you would like to suggest a workshop or express interest in a class, please contact