Local company creates hand sanitizer scents honouring Indigenous culture

Hand sanitizer made by Kanatan Health Solutions. June 16, 2021. (John Hanson/CTV News Edmonton)

A local business is dedicated to making hand sanitizer that smells great, is safe to use and also represents Indigenous culture.

Kanatan Health Solutions was started in Saddle Lake Cree Nation during the pandemic after hand sanitizer was being faced with a lot of resistance by the Indigenous community.

Marketing and Sales Director Tasha Power says the smell of generic hand sanitizer was a deterrent for many in the community, and triggering for those struggling with alcoholism.

“That really turned off a lot of our people, they do not want to smell like they just came from a party,” said Power.

“We wanted to come up with a solution that smells great and is Health Canada approved.”

They created hand sanitizer in a variety of smells including traditional smudging scents like sweet grass, cedar, sage and sweet tobacco.

“These do not contain actual smudges but the scents are exactly like those smudges. They’re going to trigger those beautiful memories of when you last smudged with those specific scents.”

The hand sanitizer also comes in berry scents and wild mint.

Power said it was very important to the company to make safe products with minimal ingredients that people would want to use daily.

“You can read the bottle and you can pronounce what that [ingredient] is because we’re putting it on our body and especially on our skin we want to make sure it’s safe and it’s healthy and it’s going to help.”

Along with hand sanitizer, the company sells lotions, mask accessories and masks with Indigenous designs, in cloth and disposable.

“We really want to share our culture, we want to share the really beautiful smells that we have with our sacred forest smudge scents and the really beautiful art on our masks,” said Power. “We want to share that with all cultures, not just First Nations.”

As a way to encourage vaccine uptake, Powers says anyone that shows proof of their first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine can get two disposable masks and a 100 ml hand sanitizer for free with a $15 purchase.

Orders can be placed online and can be delivered locally, picked up at their distribution centre in Edmonton, or can be shipped through Canada Post.

Kanatan Health Solutions has sent products to 45 different First Nations communities across North America since the company started in July 2020.