When is it acceptable to make money off sweetgrass?

APTN News
Earlier this week APTN News reported that an Alberta elder was furious a department store in Calgary was selling sweetgrass.

She said traditional medicines aren’t meant to be profitable.

But when is it acceptable to make money from sweetgrass?

Amy Willier and her mother, Yvonne Jobin, run Moonstone Creations in Calgary.

It’s a gift shop selling Indigenous art and clothing, along with sage, sweetgrass and smudge kits.

Willier argues times have changed.

“I can see people being upset with the lack of protocol and having an expectation when you’re picking medicines and using medicines, that it’s done in a traditional way,” she said.

“But from a store perspective I also can understand that, yea, you kind of need to make money.”

Willier said her sweetgrass is picked by an elder from Saskatchewan who is paid with tobacco and money.

“Traditionally we gave gifts – It’s an exchange,” she said. “The exchange right now is money because it costs gas to go and pick. It all costs money because that’s the world that we live in.

“The question here in the middle of winter, in January, the question is – are you going to smudge, or not smudge? If you want to smudge you’re going to find a source.”

Video Journalist / Calgary

Tamara is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received a diploma in interactive media arts at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and has worked as a videographer for CBC in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. Tamara was hired by APTN in 2016 as a camera/editor and is now a video journalist in our Calgary bureau.

10 thoughts on “When is it acceptable to make money off sweetgrass?

  1. This is just my opinion, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. It’s my teaching that the medicines are responding to the human’s needs, similar to when one asks for help from someone in person. So, if that person hasn’t humbly asked for that medicine to help him/her, it’s less likely that the medicine knows how to respond. When medicines are harvested, those who harvest ask for the medicine’s help. It is best when the ask can be specific. Then when the medicine exchanges hands, there should be a respect of protocol to that medicine. Otherwise it’s like assuming a helper just knows who to help and what to do without being given any information. In today’s hectic world, we don’t always have the chance to follow that protocol… so the medicines (and people?) are doing their best to help each other through these difficult times.

  2. This is just my opinion, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. It’s my teaching that the medicines are responding to the human’s needs, similar to when one asks for help from someone in person. So, if that person hasn’t humbly asked for that medicine to help him/her, it’s less likely that the medicine knows how to respond. When medicines are harvested, those who harvest ask for the medicine’s help. It is best when the ask can be specific. Then when the medicine exchanges hands, there should be a respect of protocol to that medicine. Otherwise it’s like assuming a helper just knows who to help and what to do without being given any information. In today’s hectic world, we don’t always have the chance to follow that protocol… so the medicines (and people?) are doing their best to help each other through these difficult times.

  3. It’s sad to see this if anyone needs these give tobacco to an elder or anyone who is shown how to pick these instead of buying I believe there is no meaning to it… u don’t sell stuff given freely by our creator….

  4. It’s sad to see this if anyone needs these give tobacco to an elder or anyone who is shown how to pick these instead of buying I believe there is no meaning to it… u don’t sell stuff given freely by our creator….

  5. Times have changed, people need money that go out and pick and if you are a person that smudges and require these medicines that person will pay for them. However, I would be upset if these medicines were sold at stores like “Dollarama or Dollar Stores” … would not be appropriate.

  6. Times have changed, people need money that go out and pick and if you are a person that smudges and require these medicines that person will pay for them. However, I would be upset if these medicines were sold at stores like “Dollarama or Dollar Stores” … would not be appropriate.

  7. I don’t see anything wrong with it,most people don’t know where to pick it,I don’t.. but am greatful someone take their time (money/gas) to go do it…These people got mouths to feed,bills to pay.. so I say ‘ Yes’ & hats off to you’s! Hiye-Hiye

  8. I don’t see anything wrong with it,most people don’t know where to pick it,I don’t.. but am greatful someone take their time (money/gas) to go do it…These people got mouths to feed,bills to pay.. so I say ‘ Yes’ & hats off to you’s! Hiye-Hiye

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