Manitoba's Sacred Medicine


Aboriginal communities and elders are very protective of the deep-seated knowledge they hold about traditional medicines and healing practices Obtaining permission to meet with an elder can be difficult. It's absolutely necessary to gain the trust of the Aboriginal community or specific elder you wish to meet with before any such meeting can take place. The best way to gain their trust, is simply to form a personal relationship with them over time.

I just recently decided to write a feature article about traditional Aboriginal medicine for a school project. The assignment is due on Feb. 8, so needless to say, I did not have a lot of time to track down an elder and begin forming a personal relationship with them. Instead, I had to use my negotiation skills to gain access into Winnipeg's sacred healing community.

After two weeks of endless research, phone calls, and emails, I was finally able to set up a meeting with Betty Ross, a Cree elder and highly sought after spiritual advisor and healer in Winnipeg. Tonight, I will be given rare access into Ross's home where I will conduct an interview with her and see first-hand all of the medicines and herbs she uses in her practice.

In preparation for my interview, I set out to Shefield & Sons Tobacconists in Cityplace Mall. I purchased 50 g of sweet-smelling ceremonial tobacco, which I will offer to Ross before our interview as a sign of respect and a demonstration of my genuine intentions.

My list of questions for Ross is a long, but I am fully willing and expecting to forget about what I have written down, and to allow her to lead the conversation. If all goes well tonight, I will come away with a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture and medicine, and a great start to my article.


  1. Many aspects of traditional healing have proven useful in mainstream medicine. Willow bark is a painkiller, and an extract of it is ASA (Aspirin).


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