Richard DeSylva R.H. DNM
While writing this letter on one of the coldest days of the winter, it is hard to realize that Spring is just around the corner…. and with the advent of warmer weather, comes the renewal, and growth of our earth-based medicines.
And so it is with the Ontario Herbalist Association(OHA); having formally started back in 1983, and with this – the advent of our 33rd year, it is likewise, time for a renewal of our purpose, goals and direction.
With heartfelt thanks and gratitude to those members of the old Board: Diane Kent, Monika Ghent and Michael Vertolli, who have chosen to retire from the demands of running the OHA, we now have a full complement of both current & new Board members. John Redden – a long time professional member and former editor of the Canadian Journal of Herbalism is now vice-president; thankfully, Susan Elliotson is still our Privacy Officer and Secretary; Elizabeth Boyd is once again our Treasurer and a co-ordinator for the newsletter; Lianna Vargas has agreed to take on again, the role of working with the student committee, web design and all round networking with groups.
Coming a long way from Peterborough area, is Marianne Beacon, with such dedication and fresh insight as to how the OHA can re-invent itself; Chris Lamont has taken over the considerable task of reviewing new member applications & working on developing our social media efforts; Elena Pintilie a masterful taker of minutes keeps us all on track of what was said, and what is to be completed; and last but not least is Tamara Segal – working under contract with the OHA as office manager diligently behind the scenes, answering emails, sorting through correspondence, and firing off emails to Board members, etc.
And lest I forget – yours truly is now president. Recently, I was asked why I agreed to take this position; in response, perhaps it could be said that having been vice-president for the past number of years, it was only natural to move up the ladder. However, as will be explained in the forthcoming re-issue of the OHA Journal, there remains much to be done in the way of protecting the rights of herbalists to practice here in Ontario. I’ve been actively involved with the OHA since its inception, & am well aware of how other CAM disciplines have encroached on our area of practice, both in the recent past, as well as in the early ‘80’s.
These are some of the challenges we face in the coming months. However, another important issue is how to re-invigorate the OHA, & its membership, and especially the public’s perception of the OHA. In retrospect, the unfortunate cancellation of both the Journal and the annual Herb Fair a number of years ago – due entirely to costs that were insurmountable, significantly diminished the OHA ‘brand’ : both in the eyes of the professional members and the public. Now, with the Board’s approval, once again will the Journal be available, starting in the Spring of this year. Initially, the format will be electronic, but ultimately we hope to advance to a ‘print-on-demand’ basis that could be printed once a year.
The OHA Board has also agreed to be part of the HEARTWOOD Gathering; this is a group of herbal enthusiasts, herbalists, collectors, medicine makers and all round herb aficionados who will be offering herb walks, lectures and work-shops devoted to the study of herb plants and their uses.
All of the above marks the turning over of a new leaf in the life of the OHA. We have an excellent Board, infused with the desire and the energy to take the OHA to the next step. I’m really looking forward to our professional members involvement as we rekindle the interest in matters herbal. It is time we rightfully became more visible in the public’s eye, as the keepers of the herbal flame.
President of the Ontario Herbalists Association