Turtle Lodge Trading Post Inc. (TLTP) is an Indigenous owned home-based mail order wholesale/retail company in Clayton, (Almonte) Ontario.
TLTP carries whole leaf organic Semah, a variety of Sages, Sweetgrass (loose & braids), a variety of other herbs and shells, broadcloth, pouches, art crafts, and much, much more.
For years we watched good people struggle with uncertainties about the availability, cost, quality & source for their ceremonial medicines & tools. Thus TLTP was born. Since 2006, we have made it our mission to become a trusted source for these products. We believe it is this care & concern for quality & respect for the plant world that allow us to offer the level of excellence that our customers have come to expect.
We are located on 10 acres of mostly bush land in Clayton, Ontario. We don’t have a physical store, per say. Just rooms full of shelves and bins. The entire first level (and then some) of our house has been converted for business use as we’ve grown. We operate by appointment for pick up, and are mainly a mail order company, plus we have “Turtle on the Road” where you can find us with a table of products on a regular bi-weekly/monthly basis at various locations, such as the Kumik Elder's Lodge & the Wabano Centre for Indigenous Health. This business model allows us more time for family and the land, and the flexibility to continue studies, attend lodges and gatherings and support other amazing people and organizations that are doing wonderful things.
For the past several years, TLTP has been the driving force in Canada for the establishment of Tobacco licencing specifically for ceremonial use. We have spent and continue to spend countless hours trail blazing and mapping out this path, educating, and determining how best to "police" this effort so that sacred Semah only reaches those it is intended for. We are currently the only company in Canada licenced to carry whole leaf organic Semah specifically for ceremonial use. Visit the main Semah page for more details.
SACRED MEDICINES ARE NOT FOR SALE!
Mother Earth provides a rich abundance of food and other materials for our use, and asks little in return other than for us to respect and look after Her and each other. Traditionally, sacred medicines are gifted, traded, grown, or harvested from the wild. However, in today’s society, it is not always practical or possible to honour the medicines in exactly those ways, especially for folks living in cities.
Turtle Lodge Trading Post Inc. (TLTP) was born of this necessity, and has become a vehicle for providing quality medicines for ceremonial use. This business supports us so that we can continue to support the community in a variety of ways. We are a for-profit business by legal definition because we need to make a living and keep a roof over our heads. But we are deeply committed to the people and also involved in a variety of community endeavours, so supporting us means you are also supporting the People.
We steer away from providing any ceremonial information on our website with few exceptions. TLTP does NOT sell ceremony. We will always encourage you to seek the guidance of an Elder in your own community, if possible. If you have questions we will be happy to answer them to the best of our ability, or direct you to someone who may be able to help.
PLEASE REMEMBER, whenever you ask for or are gifted with a teaching it is always appropriate to make an offering of Semah. If you can't do it in person, an offering to Mother Earth is an appropriate alternative.
All our herbal products are either purchased from organic or ethically wildcrafted sources. Many are also certified Kosher. Whenever possible, we purchase from Indigenous harvesters and suppliers and are always ready to help new Indigenous entrepreneurs. Many of our products are locally sourced but, if demand outweighs supply, we sometimes import herbs from trusted sources outside the region. Above all else, we pride ourselves on quality and service and have established a solid reputation over the years.
FROM OUR PRESIDENT:
I was born in 1964 and have felt the pull of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers directing me towards the Red Path since my troubled teen years. Around 20-25 years ago that pull became a calling I could no longer ignore. When I firmly stepped on the path, I was blessed to encounter well respected teachers who were Lakota, Cree, Algonquin and Mohawk Elders. I was honoured to participate in many of their ceremonies over the years, and much of my teachings and practice come from these traditions.
I grew up knowing we had some Indigenous ancestry on my Mom's side, and later documented our descendance from two different early Metis families, one of Wendat and the other Mi'kmaq heritage on my Mom's side, and also later discovered another Mi'kmaq ancestor on my father's side, which was verified in writing by the Acadian genealogy resource centre in Chetticamp on Cape Breton Island where Dad grew up.
I am not an expert, but I do have a passion and respect for the Plant People. In my early forties, I completed a herbal apprenticeship and worked for three years with an Elder German Herbalist with whom I had fond connection with up until her passing in 2018. I also learned a lot about about herbs and edible wild things from some of my family members when I was growing up. I recall my Mom's oldest brother, Uncle Chummy, showing us how to use Jewelweed for poison ivy, and him picking Golden Thread to treat his painful teeth and stomach ulcers. I have a vivid memory of the moment I decided I absolutely loved mushrooms after tasting the Morel mushrooms my Aunt Terry picked and cooked up. (She laughs when I say this but she actually is a revered Elder in mycological society circles in the U.S. where she resides) I remember my Mom would sometimes save the Nettle juice after cooking them to rinse my hair with. Spring has always meant tender Fiddle heads, Nettle sprouts, cattail shoots, Trout lilies, wild berries, and more in our home, especially thanks to my brother Peter who has been an avid forager and a walking encyclopedia about plants from the time he was old enough to walk in the bush on his own.
I was blessed to work closely with the late Algonquin Elder William Commanda, (1913-2010) during the last 15 years of his life. I assisted him and his longtime companion Romola Thumbadoo with many of their reports, posters and events over the years, as well as the design and publishing of their book Learning from a Kindergarten Dropout, and the website www.Asinabka.com that Grandfather William himself co-authored and helped designed. The site details the Algonquin People's original 2003 vision as guided by Grandfather William for the sacred site at the Chaudière Falls in Ottawa before it got stolen and obliterated by Windmill Development's "Zibi" project. I continue to support Grandfather and Romola, who he appointed as co-director of his Circle of All Nations organization, in her efforts to continue his work and keep his vision alive. Both of these wonderful people continue to be an amazing source of inspiration for me.
While TLTP was still in its infancy, from 2007 to 2015, I worked for Donna Cona Inc. (DC), an Indigenous IT and business development firm in Ottawa. There I happily applied several decades of accounting and multimedia skills. My duties were mainly bookkeeping, but also included producing the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation's (MMFN) band's newsletters for several years. (The MMFN is DC's owner John Bernard's reserve) Both tasks required me to travel to the MMFN in New Brunswick a couple of times a year for several years. It was an amazing experience and DC, along with the MMFN and its People remain dear to my heart.
My resume is long and varied. I have worn many hats over the years, and have been blessed to be touched by a rainbow of Peoples. But I honestly feel like it's all led me to this. Just about every skill I have acquired along the way has proven beneficial since TLTP crawled out of its shell and into my heart.
TLTP was seeded somewhere in the first handful of years of this millennium when I was asked by some of the lodge keepers in our community to help acquire a more affordable source of high quality White Sage. I have a gift for finding things, and/or for things finding their way to me, and of course I love herbs. It wasn't long before folks were asking me if I could find other supplies and it began to snowball. For many years it was just something I did on the side mostly as a favour. But, year-after-year, more and more of my time became devoted to this hobby. In 2006, I started calling it Turtle Lodge Teas, but that didn't really describe everything I was doing, so it eventually evolved into Turtle Lodge Trading Post.
As time passed, between family and my full-time job at Donna Cona, where I was commuting an hour a day each way on good days, I realized I had to make a decision. I felt so strongly in my heart that the Creator would not have allowed me to travel so far down this path unless it was where I was meant to go. So in 2015 I quit my full-time job on a high note and with lots of support from DC, and jumped in with both feet to turn TLTP into a sustainable business. In the fall of 2019, we officially incorporated and became Turtle Lodge Trading Post Inc.
The years have been tumultuous, stressful and sometimes terrifying, but also brilliant and incredibly rewarding. I've challenged myself and grown in ways I never dreamed of. I've been hugely blessed with an amazing staff and support from my family and Indigenous communities and organizations across the country, without whom none of this would be possible. I'm so deeply honoured to be doing the work I'm doing today. Every moment of every day I am fully aware of how blessed I am. My life is filled with purpose, and meaning. I truly hope it shows in everything TLTP does for those who support us.
On behalf of our staff, we’ve met so many amazing people on this path and offer our deep, heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years. Your encouragement, loyalty and wisdom are greatly appreciated!
Thank you! Merci! Miigwetch! Wela’lin! Tiawenhk! Marci! Móran taing!
For your continued support!!
THE TURTLE ON THE ROAD PROGRAM:
In 2015, the Kumik Elder’s Lodge in Hull, QC invited us to bring our products to the lodge on a regular basis. Several months later, the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health invited us to do the same at their Monday Culture Night. We are very grateful for their support and encouragement. The program has become known as our TURTLE ON THE ROAD program.
TURTLE ON THE ROAD (TOR) REPRESENTATIVES:
FRANCINE & JOHN HENRI COMMANDA
Francine and John Henri Commanda, began working as TOR hosts in the fall of 2017, and look after our regular monthly visits to the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.
Kate Mackenzie became a TOR host in the fall of 2018 looking after our biweekly visits to the Kumik Elder's Lodge.