Indigenous-made hand sanitizer uses traditional plants, encourages First Nations vaccinations

An indigenous family-owned health business is gaining popularity after creating hand sanitization products inspired by the scents of traditional medicinal plants. Bailey Nitti has more on the business who is helping to fight the spread of COVID-19 in indigenous communities.

EDMONTON (CityNews) — An Indigenous family-owned business in Alberta has created scented hand sanitizers using traditional medicinal plants.

The hand sanitizers made by Edmonton’s Kanatan Health Solutions are infused with essential oils that mimic the smell of medicinal plants like sage, sweet grass and cedar.

Company CEO Sheila Redcrow says using those plants matters greatly to First Nation communities, especially elders.

“We usually burn them and bless ourselves with them, and now with these scents, we also have something that protects us from COVID, which is pretty special,” said Redcrow.

One of the main reasons Kanatan Health Solutions wanted to make hand sanitizer infused with these scents was because the smell of alcohol can be triggering to many.

“A lot of people now are forced to use hand sanitizer and a lot smell like really strong vodka or alcohol,” said Redcrow.

Tasha Power, the marketing coordinator for Kanatan, says the company also wanted to encourage those in First Nation communities to get vaccinated.

“There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy in Indigenous communities,” said Power. “I feel like there’s a background with that where people were forced a long time ago with the tuberculosis vaccines, so they have not so great memories of it.”

Kanatan is offering free sanitization products and other swag to those who make a small purchase and show that they’ve been vaccinated.

“We do want to encourage and try to get herd immunity as soon as possible, especially on the reservations where there’s overcrowding,” said Power. “So it’s hard if one person gets COVID.”

The Redcrow family says its products have reached almost every Indigenous community in Canada, and just recently it has been sending orders overseas to countries in Europe.

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