Indigenous

Meet 3 Indigenous women entrepreneurs promoting wellness and culture

Three Indigenous women entrepreneurs are promoting wellness and culture through hiking tours, clothing, and skin care products.

Heather Black, Loretta Tuttauk and Erin Brillon share culture through their businesses

Heather Black heads out with one of her tours. (Heather Black )

Heather Black gives guided tours in the Rocky Mountains west of Calgary that provide what she calls a memorable Indigenous adventure.

"We have our ancestors who have walked here thousands of years but it's a place here we can connect and ground our mind, body and spirit," said Black, who is from Kainai Nation.

Black joined local hiking groups to discover trails. Hikers noticed her smudging so she started sharing her cultural knowledge.

She realized there was an interest in how Indigenous people connect to the land.

"The mountains are our backyard; we need to embrace it, we need to be out there," said Black.

"We need to be the original storytellers of this land and I'm here to help."

Heather Black, owner of Buffalo Stone Woman Indige-scape Tours, incorporates Indigenous teaching, arts and crafts and storytelling on her family and group tours. (Heather Black)

She started Buffalo Stone Woman Indige-scape Tours in 2020, after receiving a certification from the Outdoor Council of Canada.

"I want to share with the world … how beautiful our Indigenous people are and our culture and traditions and just being authentic out there."

Although the mountain peaks are once-in-a-lifetime experiences for many people, she said it's about storytelling first and being able to share that.

Loretta's Wellness Circle

Loretta Tuttauk harvests sage, tobacco, sweet grass and cedar to use those traditional medicines in her face and body treatments.

Loretta Tuttauk shows her business products. (Loretta Tuttauk)

"I have incorporated them into my own wellness and well-being for my family, as well as some of the products that I do carry," said Tuttauk, who is Metis Cree.

Her company, Loretta's Wellness Circle, offers facial cleansers, candles and body sprays. She said ceremonies and prayers are part of the gathering process for product making. 

"I often do that with my elders or with a group of ladies where we come together and we put our tobacco down and engage in ceremony. We definitely give and connect with the land when we are asking for permission to do that." she said.

Totem Design House

Erin Brillon started a home based business on the K'omoks First Nation in B.C. in 2015 with the environment in mind.

She uses water-based inks to print her eco-friendly women's wear collection.

"Every aspect that we can assure it's the better, more ecological-friendly way that's what we do." said Brillon, who is Haida and Cree.

Erin Brillon shows her eco-friendly women's wear collection. (Chad Hipolito)

Her interest in screen printing came from helping her brother print his designs on ready-made t-shirts but she noticed there weren't enough size options for Indigenous people.

She supplies her customers with size-inclusive options but also makes earrings in-house and offers botanical wellness products.

She said ten percent of her profits from Totem House Design goes to the Copper Legacy Indigenous Empowerment Society.

"The bigger we grow the more we can give back because I totally believe that we should be giving back to the culture" she said.

"I feel like we participate in our culture a lot, we're doing a lot to uphold the different traditions but it's also on people like us to strive to always find ways to give back."

Brillon says her company will be featured on the Shopping Channel early next year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CBC Indigenous reporter, Blackfoot from Siksika nation, covering Indigenous stories in Treaty 6, 7 and 8. Got a story? Email him at Floyd.black.horse@cbc.ca

now