“Prior to colonization, Indigenous people depended on plants and nature to stay alive. Our Healers and Medicine People have tremendous stores of knowledge, passed down for thousands of years. I saw my grandmother’s connection with the healing plants and use them to benefit others.”
Carrie Armstrong, Mother Earth Essentials
From Seed to Heart - LFMOs Hopes for K-Days
Since LFMOs inception in 1999, and incorporation in 2010, we have not only advocated for the equal treatment, health and wellbeing of all Metis people, but for the strength and knowledge that Metis women, youth, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ folks hold for all our futures. Through this strength and knowledge, we hope to address accountability and reconciliation by honoring the cultural and traditional wisdom our women have in environmental stewardship. Combining these principles, From Seed to Heart is intended to be a safe space for healing and knowledge sharing within the larger K-Days expo.
Partnering with Mother Earth Essentials
Mother Earth Essentials was founded by Carrie Armstrong who comes from a long line of Cree Medicine Women. She started to form the idea for a bath & beauty line business during her first teaching job at Amiskwaciy Academy, where she used traditional plants to connect the students to their history. Prior to teaching, she worked in the beauty and retail industry as an esthetician and a cosmetic sales rep. These combined experiences helped her down the path to launch her collection of natural products through Mother Earth Essentials. Since the beginning, Carrie has been passionate about sharing her Indigenous culture and the spiritual properties handed down to her. In late 2020, Carrie published her book Mother Earth Plants for Health & Beauty: Indigenous Plants, Traditions and Recipes with Eschia Books. It features recipes for teas, soap, bath products, balms, and lotions—all of which use wild edible and medicinal plants that can be collected on the prairies. Since publishing, her book has popped on the Bestseller list on Read Alberta and was a finalist in the Trade Non-Fiction category for the Alberta Book Publishing Awards.
Carrie had natural recipes and plant knowledge that were important to her to share but her mother and aunt had been taken to residential school and the generational teachings were threatened. She worked with her grandmother, elders, and medicine people to create and grow the foundations for Mother Earth products.
Tobacco is considered a sacred medicine. The smoke is believed to be the pathway to the spirit world. It is also used as an offering of thanks or when requesting something from nature, an elder or knowledge keeper. Sacred herbs are powerful. Tobacco can be healing or harmful depending on how it is used. When used in a sacred way, it can promote good health and assist with spiritual guidance, gratitude and growth. Sacred tobacco is sometimes not the actual tobacco plant but a blend of plants such as kinnikinick and the bark of the red osier dogwood. Commercial tobacco is very harmful and is laced with thousands of harmful chemicals. Many elders believe that any use of tobacco that occurs outside of ceremony with the plant in it’s natural form is an insult to Creator.
Sweetgrass is sometimes called the hair of Mother Earth and is considered a gift. After the grass is harvested, it is carefully braided; the three sections representing mind, body, and spirit. When we smudge with sweetgrass, we are taught that the smoke from that burning sweetgrass prepares us for prayer because the scent is pleasing to the Creator. We create this nature-identical oil using a mix of plants that yield more oil than this dry-climate grass can alone.
Sage is found abundantly in dry areas of North America and has an herbal, spicy scent. It is used in ceremony for smudging as a means to cleanse negativity from ourselves and our spaces. Our ancestors also used different varieties of sage for medicinal purposes. We can gargle with a strong tea made with fresh or dried sage to soothe throat infections, dental abscesses or infected gums. Sage also helps balance estrogen production, making it a good tea for women experiencing symptoms from menopause.
“Forever in our history, culture and traditions, the strawberry has been known as the ‘heart berry’ and to represent the woman in our nation. This berry shows itself in the season of regrowth and renewal (spring), and represents the reproductive role of women, in presenting new life and continuity. It represents a time when the people have a chance to look at life, let go of the things that do not serve them and to begin new growth and bring forth change and ripen, like the strawberry.”
See below for more Strawberry teachings from Grandmother Linda Bourdreau Semaganis
Linda Boudreau’s STRAWBERRY – OTEHIMIN – TEACHINGS
Forever in our history, culture and traditions, the strawberry has been known as the ‘heart berry’ and to represent the woman in our nation. This berry shows itself in the season of regrowth and renewal (spring), and represents the reproductive role of women, in presenting new life and continuity. It represents a time when the people have a chance to look at life, let go of the things that do not serve them and to begin new growth and bring forth change and ripen, like the strawberry. Strawberry is the lead berry in our feasts, like the woman is in our families. The strawberry is also prominent in the ‘rites of passage’ or ‘coming into womanhood’ ceremonies and leads girls into the new phases of womanhood. It represents the monthly cleansing that women experience to prepare to create new life. The ‘heart berry’ also teaches the connections between the mind, body, spirit and emotions, in order to develop personal balance, we need our ‘heart’ to lead us and help us grow. Strawberry plants have a strong widespread root system, which allows them to grow and flourish, like our family systems. A small sweet berry, so intricately intertwined in women’s life !
“When Women Gather, Healing Begins”
– Grandmother Linda Boudreau Semaganis
Other Healing Gardens
Although From Seed to Heart is a temporary exhibit, there are other permanent healing gardens across the Motherland that you can visit.