We are so grateful for the support of ITAC & ITA! Because of these generous grants, we have been able to expand business into the digital age, sharing teachings with new customers across North America via an online video platform.
While in-person services are heavily restricted in Alberta, we’re pleased to be able to share some of our workshop offerings online using resources provided by the ITA & ITAC. This has been a huge relief to us as a tiny grassroots business! Please support these Indigenous Tourism Associations in their efforts to showcase the beauty of indigenous cultures by Liking their Facebook pages (ITA & ITAC), or visiting their website to become a member.
We hope to connect with you via one of our new online workshops, in development now for their grand openings in March 2021.
I could never kill a bear; bears to me are the physical form of a sacred guardian who has loved me and kept a watchful eye over me my whole life, keeping me strong and encouraging me (or scaring me!) into living in a good way. When I found that little bear, I knew in my heart that he came to me with a purpose, and I was going to make that purpose count with as much Love as I could muster.
I had an idea for a ‘bear harvest’, where youth learn about the fur, food, medicine and other gifts that our ancestors receive from the bear, in a hands-on workshop. For me, this event would be an expression of my love for the Spirit of the Bear – a way to show my gratitude for the strength and courage that Bear has given me, time and time again. We would say prayers for the Bear and have a feast in his honor. We would gather together to experience our traditions, gathering up the loose ends of our culture and weaving them whole again.
I started by telling my story to everyone I thought might be able to help! That’s the way to start any project when you don’t know how to start, in my opinion. While this method of problem solving usually works for me, I had a hard time tracking down an elder who could teach about traditional methods for harvesting bears. They didn’t know at the Metis Nation office, or at the Metis Local, nor among my friends in indigenous circles.
I knew from historical accounts that Metis hunted bear for fur, food and medicine. But in Southern Alberta, on the prairie where bears are seldom seen – and in the days where city people rarely hunt – it seems it’s not easy to find a teacher with bear knowledge. Finally I had a message from a friend at the Friendship Centre, who put me in touch with Elder Patrick. Patrick is a Cree elder, and was willing to bring us out to his land to teach us what to do with this little black bear. My excitement over finding Patrick was difficult to describe. With an elder to teach us, I knew we would make it happen!
We set up a date, and I started saving food and gathering supplies. We gathered firewood, food, knives, gloves, tarps, plastic bins, cording, large pots and kettles, fuel, and gifts. We fit it all in the back of our pick-up truck, with a space for Mr. Bear to ride alongside the supplies.
I wanted to present the elder with a blanket, cloth, tobacco and medicines. I put so much care into that blanket, choosing the patterned fabric and finishing the edges with blanket stitch in contrasting color. It was always in my mind that everything should be just right.
Metis Local 87 from Calgary gave a generous donation after hearing our story, paying for the necessary honorarium. (A great big Maarsi to Calgary Local 87! Check them out on Facebook if you can and show them some love.)
Little Mr. Bear came out of the freezer 4 days before the harvest. It was cold outside, but there was nowhere else to thaw him so my husband built a little wooden box to keep him safe in the yard. He was still quite frozen the day before the harvest, I spent the day anxiously cooking stew and adjusting a space-heater near the box, hoping that we wouldn’t have a bear-sicle on our hands in the morning.
There were 8 youth and 4 adult helpers at the harvest. The enthusiasm of the youth was like a small warm fire in my heart. Their expressions of gratitude and wonderment mirrored my own and made me so happy. Every single youth was in there ‘like a dirty shirt’ as the saying goes, getting their hands bloody despite the cold and the powerful bear-smell. I am so proud of these young adults, that they wanted to experience this traditional knowledge for themselves. We connected at that spot in our hearts that only our culture can fill.
Elder Patrick directed me to prepare a special plate just for the bear spirit, with salmon and berries, stew and bannock. He lead me through a prayer in front of the fire, I repeating the words after him like a small child.
He told me, ‘now put the plate on the fire,’. I reached forward, but the fire was blistering hot – it was a four-foot high blaze and I couldn’t get my hands closer than a couple of feet because of the intense heat! “Go ahead,”, he looked at me expectantly.
I got as close as a could, and sort of lobbed the plate into the flames. The elder wore a bemused expression, presumably confused at my choice to throw the offering. “Oh,” was all he said.
I blushed from embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” I stammered by way of explanation. ” it’s so hot!Was that rude of me?”
“No…” he said and gave a half-shrug. We didn’t say anything more about it. I hope the bear didn’t mind too much!
Together, we ate a traditional feast of stew, bannock and berry pudding. Everyone took home a claw, and some took home bear meat to eat.
I was pleased that Elder Patrick invited us back to tan the bear hide in the spring! The little bear skin is back in the freezer now, taking up a lot less space. When, exactly, we’ll be able to get together for hide tanning depends on COVID-19.
If you are interested in helping us with the hide tanning or bear harvest events, we are grateful for donations of money or gifts for the elder, food and helping hands. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Wildcrafting & Medicine Making at Providence Lane Farms
Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 @ 10am-3pm
Come out to Providence Lane Homestead, just North of Cochrane, for a day spent with Kalyn Kodiak, Metis Knowledge Keeper. Registration below.
Are you interested in sustainable wildcrafting? Harvesting unique and wonderful wild foods, and turning these historic staples into delicious and useful meals and medicines? Then come out to Providence Lane Homestead on May 23 for a day spent with Kalyn Kodiak of Kodiak Herbal. We will begin with a guide to safe and effective wildcrafting practices, then explore this beautiful homestead on a foraging plant walk.
Guests will enjoy traditional teas and a fresh, locally-sourced lunch prepared just for this special day. After the meal, we will prepare a number of herbal remedies using our foraged raw materials.
Participants can expect to learn about traditions of herbal medicine, as well as preparation and preservation basics for wildcrafters. You will leave the workshop with recipes and preparations to use at home, and a renewed appreciation of Alberta’s countryside ecosystems.
Registration includes: Wildcrafting safety, foraging plantwalk, locally-sourced tea and lunch, herbal preparations workshop, freshly foraged remedies to take home. Petting of the sheep/llamas optional.
$155.00 for a Full-Day Experience
**This button will take you to the PayPal check-out system. You can edit the number of tickets on the next page. Please note that you do not need a PayPal account to check-out, you can use a credit/debit card by clicking the grey button that says “Pay with Credit Card or Visa Debit“.
New workshops are scheduled every few months -please bookmark our visual calendar and check back often to see new experiences. Or, contact Kalyn@KodiakHerbal.com to join the mailing list.
Steve and I took a day off after our wedding this August, to relax and go hiking in Kananaskis. This is where we saw the bear. She was a young black bear, likely a teenager, and she was sprinting across the highway just in front of us. “No no no no no!“, I cried, but of course bears don’t listen to humans, (and probably shouldn’t, anyway). A semi-trailer in front of us caught the bear on the chin, and she somersaulted under the truck and rolled to a stop in front of our car. Steve and I were both distraught. He rolled down the window and talked to the bear, saying nice and comforting things. “You’ve been a good bear, you did all the right bear things in your life,” he soothed, “it’s going to be okay.” He would have got out and hugged that bear if I didn’t stop him.
The poor bear of course, was not okay. She was put down by the RCMP officer who arrived 5 minutes later. We said a prayer for her.
Then I asked to keep the bear.
I didn’t know what I intended to do with the bear. It’s a 250 pound wild bear! I’m not a hunter or a butcher. I don’t know what made me ask, I just know I had watched a bear’s life wasted, and I felt it would be a bigger waste to do nothing. I filled out some paperwork and a few weeks later, I was headed to Canmore to pick up my bear, who was waiting for me in the freezer at Fish and Wildlife.
One of my favorite things about elderberries (Sambucus spp.) is the colorful rainbow of possibilities they provide! I love to showcase this ‘magic trick’ for my students during the elderberry harvest. This year my apprentice caught it all on camera, so we decided to share this magic with you! Scroll down for a fascinating chemistry experiment.
Elderberries contain Anthocyanins, a collection of antioxidants that protect the berry from environmental damage due to sun, weather & disease. These powerful protective ingredients are part of the medicine of elderberries, providing anti-inflammatory and cell-protective properties to humans, animals and birds.
Anthocyanins have the amazing ability to change their color! Depending on a number of factors, anthocyanins can appear medium blue, indigo, purple, bright pink or ruby red. Anthocyanins can even be used to create a lovely green shade! This makes elderberry a unique natural dye for coloring fabrics, cordage and tissue paper craft projects.
Why the color changes? Anthocyanins react heavily to the pH of their environment – acidic solutions will be on the red end of the spectrum, and basic solutions tend towards green/blue. These antioxidants also darken in appearance to produce lovely purple, green, or brown colors when oxidized. Oxidation occurs naturally in response to exposure to light, heat, repeated freezing, fermentation and drying. This is one of the reasons that fresh elderberry syrup is a much brighter color than syrup made from dried berries.
Boon Michinn means “good medicine” in the Michif language. You can find out more about the Metis people and see a dictionary of words in Michif through the Gabriel Dumont Institute.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is elderberry syrup used for? Elderberries have a long and distinguished history of use, and an impressive repertoire of scientific research to support it. Elderberry syrup is traditionally used at the onset of a cold, flu or other viral illness, to prevent infection or shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
How much elderberry syrup should I take?1-2 tsp. as needed, to reduce a fever, or to ease aches and pains associated with chronic or acute illness. When you feel the first tickle in your throat, grab your elderberry syrup! For prevention or to shorten the duration of a cold/flu, it may be helpful to take 1 tsp. every couple hours. Research shows that elderberries are best taken during the onset of a cold, rather than daily, when prevention of illness is the goal.
Are there other ways to use elderberry syrup?Oh my goodness, Yes! You can apply elderberry syrup to a cold sore on your lip to speed healing. Have a couple of teaspoons in hot water to ease inflammatory arthritis. Rub it on a teething baby’s gums. Mix it in your cranberry juice to relieve urinary tract pain. Drink it with sparkling water or pour it on waffles for a delicious treat. There are a million ways to use elderberry syrup.
Why is the syrup sometimes a different shade of red/purple? Our elderberry syrup is all natural, and the appearance can change depending on a few factors. The color of elderberry is dependent on the conditions of naturally occurring antioxidants known as Anthocyanins. Even the pH of water used to cook the berries can change their color from blue, to purple, to bright pink or red! (Learn about this fascinating chemistry here). Other factors effecting the color of the syrup include: 1. Location of harvest – Our Calgary berries tend to produce pink syrup, Montana berries tend towards purple
2. Weather conditions before harvest – berries that have been through a few frosts are naturally purple in color
3. Syrup occasionally contains elder flowers as well as berries. Elderberry trees often have flowers and ripe berries at the same time, a rare property in a fruit tree! Flowers contain anti-viral properties, and may lighten the appearance of the syrup.
How long will a bottle of Marie Rose’s Elderberry syrup last? The syrup is shelf stable but lasts longest in the refrigerator, where it may stay fresh for more than a year. To increase shelf-life, avoid drinking directly from the bottle, and store away from light to preserve the antioxidants. If the syrup turns cloudy, grows mold or smells/tastes stale, please be safe and dispose of the remaining product.
What ingredients are in MR Elderberry syrup? Naturally grown black elderberries (S. nigra) and flowers, organic cane sugar, water and grain spirits (10%) are the only ingredients we use.
Elderberries are naturally ‘dry’, tart, and low in sugar. Marie Rose’s Elderberry syrup contains 1/2 the sugar of a most syrups.
The black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is most suited to making medicine. Elderberries are high in antioxidants, which gives them natural anti-inflammatory and cell-protecting properties. Syrups made with fresh elderberries contain more antioxidants than dried berry syrups.
Elderberries are traditionally consumed by everyone, ages 0-101. Breastfeeding or pregnant moms, and even infants, can consume cooked elderberry syrups and juices.
A special cooking process ensures the safety of the elderberries in our syrups.
The traditional drying method of First Nations Peoples are another great way to safely process elderberries for consumption in the winter months.
A Wickedly Witchy Workshop in Celebration of Hallowe’en includes broom/smudge making & potions workshop, and an evening of dream journeying under the guidance of Mother Mugwort.
Mugwort is the Mother herb of many pre-christian cultures, used as a cleansing smudge or a potion to dispel bad spirits and keep the evil ones at bay. Modern and historical uses reveal why this potent herbage is revered by Maiden, Mother and Crone alike.
Celebrate the changing of the seasons by crafting your own broom or smudge wand from freshly harvested Mugwort, used to sweep out old energy and make room for fresh magic in homes and altars. Mugwort tea and other traditional harvest beverages will be served as we listen to tales of Artemis’ Medicine.
Make a Harvest Broom from fresh herbs
Tie a smudge stick using the european sage (mugwort)
Hear pagan tales of herbs, harvests, and hallowe’en
Learn medicinal properties & make a potion with the green witch
Costume Contest – spookiest costume wins a spooky prize!
Sample traditional harvest beverages (Please BYO Mug)
Magic & Mugwort Hallowe’en Workshop (Admit 1)
Wickedly Witchy Dream Journey (Admit 1)
Address: 23031 Township Road 380, Red Deer County T0M0V0
Whether you celebrate Hallowe’en, Samhain, Harvest or just love dressing up, join us in costume or as-you-are for an evening of witchy fun and creation!
“The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love…. It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community. A community practicing understanding and loving kindness. A community practicing mindful living. The practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Next Buddha May Be A Sangha” in Inquiring Mind journal, Spring 1994.
Within this three to four day gathering I wish to cultivate a community sharing information, reminders, and a call to awakening. Through the sharing of medicine we remind each and every
single person how beautiful we really are. We care for our home, each other, and our conscious awaking.
This particular Sangha focuses on medicine through the light of Kosha. Kosha is the multi-integrated layers of a human being. Anna (physical being), Pranna (energy being), Manna (the mind), Vigna (intuitive wisdom), and Annanda (connection to source).
Energetic presenters focus on Prana (breath), mudras, Chinese medicine/chi, Doshas-Ayurveda, and herbal medicine.
Intellectual presenters focus on chakra, psychology, belief systems, meditation, cultural healing, and intentional community living.
On the final day we will unite all the Koshas to open up the creativity of dance and music, prayer, and the creation of Maitreya in all of us.
Website and details to be provided soon. In the meantime please bookmark this page and check back often for updates. Namaste!