Métis Canadians have a long and rich history in Alberta, but for many those traditions have been lost over the years. Kalyn Kodiak is hoping to reconnect Métis Canadians to their culture one workshop at a time.
Kodiak is a herbalist and Métis teacher from Calgary. She’s the owner of Kodiak Herbal Métis Culture.
This cultural experience company hosts workshops for the public, Métis people, schools, community organizations and tourists on the traditional culture of southern Alberta’s Métis people. On Feb. 19, Kodiak will be hosting a Bear Medicine workshop in Bragg Creek.
“We’ll be talking about the bear itself as medicine,” Kodiak said. “His body, and how it’s used for medicine as well as the plants that are associated with the bear.”
The workshop will also include teachings on how to process a bear traditionally.
“We have a bear hide that we started processing as a group with the Métis Local 87 in Calgary, so we’ll be processing the hide together and using some of the greases from that bear, which is a well-known medicine for a lot of Indigenous people,” Kodiak said.
Kodiak said that bear grease has traditionally had many medicinal uses, including treating skin disorders like psoriasis.
Kodiak is herself a formally trained herbalist — a trait she shares with her great-great-grandmother, a midwife in Pincher Creek during the 1800s.
“Plant medicine is a huge part of Métis culture,” Kodiak said. “I had the opportunity to learn from elders and also from some Métis literature of hers.”
For Kodiak, these workshops are not just a chance to share her traditional culture and teachings but a way of reconnecting herself and other Métis people to culture many feel disconnected from.
“We mostly draw families of young Métis people who haven’t had a chance to connect to their culture,” Kodiak said. “There was a time when the Métis were culturally disconnected and removed from our homes and towns… as a result, a lot of people hid the fact they were Métis. Those reconnecting can be Métis openly, but their families have lost the teachings, so a lot of reconnecting Métis come to these events.”
Kodiak says all are welcome to come and learn about the cultural teachings she has to offer, but the chance to reunite people with their heritage is the motivating factor for her.
“As a reconnecting Métis person myself, that absolutely is the core reason why I do these workshops,” she said.
Those interested in participating in the Bear Medicine workshop can visit kodiakherbal.com for additional details.