Edmonton, AB | 1160 km from Lower Mainland
Before starting Kinnikinnick Foods, the founder of the company, Ted Wolf von Selzam was involved in environmental education and teaching programs. In teaching school groups about local flora and fauna, Ted found the story students remembered from year to year was the Kinnikinnick Story.
Historically, Kinnikinnick or Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) has been an important plant for both wildlife and humans alike. The berries from this ground hugging bush last through winter when other fruits are gone and are especially important to black bears in the early spring when food is scarce. Native Americans used the leaves alone or with tobacco and other herbs. When it was mixed with tobacco, it was referred to as Kinnikinnick, from the Algonquin for mixture. When smoked in a sacred pipe, it is reputed to carry the smoker's prayers to the Great Spirit. A tea made from the leaves was used to treat urinary tract diseases, the leaves were powdered and applied to sores and the berries were made into a tea that was used to ward off obesity. The berries, which are very nutritious and high in vitamin C, were used during the winter months as an important supplement to their diet. They were fried or dried and used in pemmican.