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.”