Meet 3 Indigenous women entrepreneurs who promote wellness and culture

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

“We have our ancestors who walked here for thousands of years, but it’s a place here where we can connect and anchor our mind, body and spirit,” said Black, of the Kainai Nation.

Black joined local hiking groups to explore trails. Hikers noticed that she was swimming, so she started to share her cultural knowledge.

She realized that there was an interest in how indigenous peoples connect to the land.

“The mountains are our backyard; we have to embrace it, we have to be there,” Black said.

“We are to be the original storytellers of this land and I am here to help you.”

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

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

“I want to share with the world… how beautiful our indigenous people are, our culture and our traditions and just be authentic there.”

Although mountain peaks are unique experiences for many people, she said it’s all about telling stories and being able to share them.

Loretta Circle of Wellbeing

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

Loretta Tuttauk shows her commercial products. (Loretta Tuttauk)

“I’ve incorporated them into my own well-being and the well-being of my family, as well as some of the products I sell,” said Tuttauk, who is Métis Cree.

Her company, Loretta’s Wellness Circle, offers facial cleansers, candles and body sprays. She said ceremonies and prayers are part of the process of getting together for the making of the products.

“I do this often with my elders or with a group of women where we get together and put down our tobacco and engage in a ceremony. We definitely give and we connect with the earth when we ask for permission to do so.” she said.

Totem design house

Erin Brillon started a home business on the K’omoks First Nation in British Columbia in 2015 with the environment in mind.

She uses water-based inks to print her collection of eco-friendly women’s clothing.

“Every aspect that we can guarantee is the best and the most environmentally friendly, that’s what we do. Said Brillon, who is Haida and Cree.

Erin Brillon presents her collection of environmentally friendly women’s clothing. (Chad Hipolito)

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

She provides her clients with included size options, but also manufactures earrings in-house and offers botanical wellness products.

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

“The more we grow up, the more we can give back because I totally believe that we should give back to culture,” she said.

“I feel like we participate a lot in our culture, we do a lot to defend the different traditions, but it’s also up to people like us to strive to always find ways to give back.”

Brillon says his business will be featured on the Shopping Channel early next year.

James C. Tibbs