Sheila Wray

Co-founder of the Backwoods Basics School, Folkherbalist, Medicine Worker

Sheila Wray is well known in the Cowichan Valley for her work with Indigenous plant medicine and her commitment to keeping the knowledge alive through education. Her research into the practical application of our local west coast ethnobotany over the past 40 years has helped to foster an increased awareness and pride in the use of our indigenous plant remedies and led to the birth of one of Vancouver Island’s first completely wild and locally sourced, Indigenous herbal product line; HedgeWych Wylds, a rarity when it was first established in 1993.

Backwoods Basics School of Wildcraft Medicine evolved out of her commitment to preserve what she feared was becoming a fading memory and endangered knowledge base of wild medicine, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. “As the old people pass away, so to will the knowledge of their wild medicine.” First Nations trained but of Celtic ancestory, Sheila combines both dynamic cultures in her work with the local indigenous plant medicine. Her educational programs aim to enliven awareness of the art of wildcrafting, of “practical” ethnobotany and folkloric medicine making.

Many of her students have gone on to further work with plant medicine; creating their own remedies to help family and friends and some to teaching on an international level, thus planting seeds that will flourish and grow far from the tree.