Elder furious Alberta department store selling sweetgrass - APTN NewsAPTN News

Elder furious Alberta department store selling sweetgrass

Tamara Pimentel
Sweetgrass is sacred to Indigenous people across North America.

“It was given to us by the Creator. We use it to smudge and purify ourselves,” said Victoria Crowchild.

But the 84-year-old said there’s nothing sacred about an Alberta department store selling from its shelves.

Packaged sweetgrass labeled as “smudge sticks” was found recently in the home décor section of a Winners store in Calgary.

“When I saw the sweetgrass. It really hurt me because that’s part of our culture. It’s part of our tradition. It’s part of our beliefs and to desecrate it like that,” said Crowchild.

“Obviously the people who purchase were not made aware of what it really meant.”

A spokesperson for Winners said stores have previously been told to remove all sweetgrass products and are looking into how it made it on the shelves in Calgary.


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13 Responses to “Elder furious Alberta department store selling sweetgrass”

  1. Waspylady@hotmail.com'
    Jennifer February 9, 2018 at 11:37 am #

    About 8 years ago, I decided I was going to have this incredible herb garden even though we lived in a townhouse and our backyard was mostly concrete slabs.
    With some help from my husband I grew an amazing jungle of herbs (basil was my nope plant. Could have called it “bugsil”).
    When I bought the plants for my garden, I came across some Sweetgrass seedlings. I bought four and I was so excited because I know about the history of this plant and how it is sacred and also endangered.
    I planted my wisps of grass with love and true respect in two large barrels (one each in the middle) and then two more in a trough that we made because I read about how it grows. I had no idea what those little plants would become over the spring and summer. The barrels were bursting with bushels of beautiful sweetgrass about four feet long and the ones in the trough that we made had to be split and given more room to grow and flourish. And it did. I cried when I cut it to try to braid and dry it.
    I NEVER forgot that it had sacred meaning to a culture that I was not a part of. I
    NEVER forgot that Sweetgrass is an endangered species of plant. I NEVER treated those plants with anything other than love and wonder (I never thought I’d see sweetgrass growing in the soil and waving in the wind and smell the scent of it and it would be thriving in my backyard).
    It was starting to get cold and I had to either let it die or harvest it and try to braid it and so I cut it and made braids about 50. Tried to hang and dry them but they didn’t burn well.
    But they still smell like beauty. (I still have about ten of them)
    Never found the seedlings at that store ever again and I have hunted every year. I don’t feel that I was disrespectful. I honoured the plant and knew about it’s significance.

  2. kellyspence1971@gmail.com'
    Kelly February 8, 2018 at 9:05 pm #

    Oh please…

    As hypocrites, tobacco is supposed to be sacred as well but First Nations have no problems selling billions of cigarettes each year to anyone with cash while raking in the dough.

    • lorrieannpigeon@yahoo.ca'
      Parks February 11, 2018 at 7:41 am #

      The tobacco that is sold as cigarettes on reserves is NOT our sacred tobacco used in ceremonies or for offerings. Can’t compare the two. Selling cigarettes is a colonial practice.

  3. comfortingearth@gmail.com'
    jim February 7, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

    im on the fence on this one they sell water thats a sacred medicine… and the spirituality has gne way further out of being thankful for that im guessing at least some people will be partially using the sweet grass with a good intention who can say that about plastic water bottles piling up in land fills

  4. lorrainesmithcollins@gmail.com'
    Lorraine Smith-Collins February 7, 2018 at 2:18 am #

    As a Mi’kmaw woman I totally agree!! I address the issue whenever i am in such an unfortunate situation. Most of the time the store keeper does not even know the history of, or use of this sacred grass!! I would have thought …yet another valid reason why our medicines are not for sale!! Monetary value should not be put on Mother Earths gifts…STOP appropriation of Indigenous cultures…it is not yours to sell!!
    Lorraine Smith-Collins

  5. lizbun@gmail.com'
    Liz February 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm #

    I’ve seen sweetgrass sold in a variety of “artisanal” stores, alongside incense and the like. Is the sale of sweetgrass something that should be frowned upon, period, due to cultural appropriation?

  6. john.ward2@canada.ca'
    John February 6, 2018 at 5:12 pm #

    Shame on whoever gave the sweetgrass to the store or whoever gave away bundles to be rebranded smudge sticks. This is another hit against Indigenous culture as a smudge is a gathering or ceremony for good and cleansing.

  7. gerryreiter65@gmail.com'
    Gerry February 6, 2018 at 4:29 pm #

    It’s the GULL of people to use our smudge like this this is the same as the Churches BIBLES ,the ISLAMIC kERON ECT… To HURT OUR ANCESTORS LIKE THIS is a …I HAVE NO WORDS FOR IT ????

  8. lvonkeman@gmail.com'
    Les Vonkeman February 6, 2018 at 2:11 pm #

    Far too often we see the gifts Mother Earth gives us being sold “informally” on various Facebook feeds and groups. Seems to me that this sale might be a natural progression from that. It’s unfortunate that this practice has been widely accepted to the point I see it happening at almost all indigenous events. I’d be interested in the source of this Sweetgrass and who is behind this stores decision to market & sell it. We all need to decide to stop the sale of mother earths gifts all together.

  9. paulhaythorne@gmail.com'
    Paul Haythorne February 6, 2018 at 1:18 am #

    Nothing is sacred to the Eurocentrics,they sell their own shit(rosary beads,crosses,ect) right in the temple (church)

  10. matildaspence2014@gmail.com'
    Kaylee Rae Swan February 6, 2018 at 12:55 am #

    No. They should not sell sweet grass. It’s a sacred medicine. It’s burnt for a reason. Geez what next…

    • donnablumedmonton@gmail.com'
      Donna B. February 8, 2018 at 9:12 am #

      The Creator wants us to share.

    • Z97@hotmail.com'
      Anna February 11, 2018 at 4:09 am #

      Keep us posted who sold it to them.