This article was published in August 2021 and may be outdated.
“To know where this came from – it gives me hope,” said Jolene Wilson, West Central Women’s Resource Centre. “This is medicine for our community, and this sage is beautiful – you can see it has caretakers at Manitoba Hydro.”
The West Central Women’s Resource Centre, along with the North Point Douglas Women’s Resource Centre, are two local organizations that have been provided with sage grown at Manitoba Hydro, in response to a shortage of traditional plants. (See CBC.ca: Manitoba drought leaves women’s centres short on sage for smudging, medicinal uses.)
“There is a need in the community,” said Julie DesLauriers (Recruitment & Diversity). “When we read the CBC story, our sharing circle group immediately thought how can we let people know we have this to share?”
The donated sage comes from the traditional Indigenous medicinal garden, Kihtihga-nahn, tended by members of Manitoba Hydro’s Indigenous Sharing Circle since it was first planted in 2018 atop the roof on the third floor of 360 Portage Ave.
“This year, we have a beautiful crop, it’s growing wild on its own right now,” said Rose Monkman (Distribution Engineering) one of the garden’s caretakers. “Left to its elements, I am amazed at how much sage and also sweetgrass is out here – in 2019, we couldn’t find much sweetgrass, but it has now filled in one whole side.”
“Our goal is to reach out and let organizations know we have locally grown sage, and that we can help provide what they may need,” said Kevin Monkman (Indigenous & Community Relations) “We’re reaching out to some of the women’s centres listed in the CBC story, but we also want to spread the word to others this is available.”
Jolene admits she was uncertain when she received the call from Kevin.
“To be honest, it was a little bittersweet for me at first,” said Jolene. “I know the extent of damage to lands done across Manitoba, and initially, I was hesitant to take the call from Manitoba Hydro when Kevin said he had sage to donate.
“But as Kevin explained where it came from, and the urban garden on the building – and I saw the photos, it looks like this beautiful field…, I thought isn’t that wonderful? We’ve received lots of donations from rural communities – this was our first from an urban centre.
“So, I accepted this donation with honesty – that our lands need to be protected, but this gives me hope. We all need to be caretakers in our future – it’s that circle of life. Seeing [Manitoba Hydro’s] field of sweetgrass and sage, it’s a start. It’s beautiful and it has caretakers.”
Do you know of an organization in need of sage for traditional use? Please comment the name of the organization on our Facebook post so members of our Indigenous Sharing Circle can reach out.