June Anthony-Reeves can still picture winter picnics with her mother when she was a child. As they walked along the trails in Neskonlith, plants began to reach above the snow-covered ground. Her mother would stop and teach her about how each plant was used, just as her mother had learned from her grandmother. With her origins reaching back through generations of respected medicine women, Anthony-Reeves knew she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Named in honour of the region in which her parents grew up, Anthony-Reeves launched Up the Hill at Loakin in 2018. Based in Chase, Anthony-Reeves harvests traditional Indigenous plants in the Neskonlith area and uses her formal and cultural training as an herbalist to create botanical medicines and personal care products safe for the entire family.

A Business Close to Home

“I am honoured to be in the same line of work that my family took on for years. A lot of people in our community remember my mom and grandmother. I love doing this kind of work and can see why they became great medicine women. They were scientists who always knew what medicine to use,” says Anthony-Reeves.

“Indigenous medicine is central to each of our products. We harvest locally using Indigenous knowledge. Through that Indigenous knowledge, Up the Hill at Loakin has so much to offer the world.”

Herbal medicines, such as Up the Hill at Loakin’s topical first aid salve and aromatic sage wands, have been used for thousands of years across all continents. Today, Anthony-Reeves takes the required steps necessary to sell Up the Hill at Loakin’s products.

Crossing Borders

As Up the Hill at Loakin expanded beyond Canadian borders, Anthony-Reeves connected with Export Advisor Shannan Schimmelmann for support.

“I found out about the program through participating in the Indigenous Trade Accelerator Program. I contacted the World Trade Centre and was connected with Export Navigator,” says Anthony-Reeves. “I’ve received guidance on how to enter new markets and made connections with potential national and international clients.”

Through Schimmelmann, Anthony-Reeves is currently working to get her botanical medicine and personal care products certified by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“Shannan has opened our eyes to Australia as a potential market. She was instrumental in helping us participate in a virtual trade mission and has helped us make so many contacts,” says Anthony-Reeves. “I wouldn’t be as far as I am in the export journey without her.”

With the help of three employees and Export Navigator, Anthony-Reeves developed a new sales program, welcomed three new wholesale customers and expanded manufacturing capabilities.

Up the Hill at Loakin has successfully shipped products to Germany, New Zealand and the United States.

“The export journey I’m on right now is exciting,” says Anthony-Reeves. “As I complete each step, it’s rewarding. That success extends out into my community. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Shannan Roberts