A Biography of Sophie Thomas

"I like to walk alone. It's good for me. It keeps me lively.
If I don't, I get stiff and I'm good for nothing."

   Sophie is a member of the Saik'uz First Nation, located at Stoney Creek near Vanderhoof, British Columbia, Canada. Saik'uz is part of a larger Carrier Nation, comprising a number of First Nation communities in the north central part of BC. The Carrier people were given the name "Carrier" since they were known to carry the ashes of family members who had passed away.

Stoney Creek

   Sophie Thomas is a Carrier Elder who claims to be eighty-three years old (her birth certificate says she's 87). Sophie is extremely knowledgeable in traditional medicines. She has spent most of her life pursuing the learning of herbal medicines. Her grandmother taught her herbal remedies that are hundreds of years old.

   For the past twenty years she has been invited to speak at elementary and high schools, colleges and universities. She has spoken at international conferences and is an important environmental activist. Her talks center on sharing knowledge of herbs that are part of the natural environment. She is an advocate for the preservation of the environment - so our world can have use of natural traditional medicines.

   Sophie has worked with university students to insure that the inter-relationship between people and plants in our environment is understood and respected. Her dedication to passing on her knowledge has touched many hearts. This knowledge is not usually passed out of the Nation and traditionally is passed orally from generation to generation within families.

School Presentation

   Although popular, her message is sometimes not very welcome to groups who see only money in the forests.

   Sophie was married to Morris Thomas for 62 years, until his passing in 1993. They had 15 children together and suffered through the loss of 4 children. Sophie and Morris traditionally adopted 15 other children in their community. They shared the philosophy that each child in unique, special and have treated all children with respect and unconditional love. Sophie has 35 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

Her achievements include:

  • Founding member of the Stoney Creek Homemaker's Society - circa 1952
  • Former Chief of Stoney Creek Band
  • Founding member Stoney Creek Child Welfare Committee, currently Honorary Member of the Saik'uz Child Welfare Committee
  • Ministry of Forests - Archaeological presenter (Environmental Impact of Logging)
  • Instrumental in the formation of the Stoney Creek Dancers - circa 1970
  • Presenter- Founding Conference of Naturopath Association of Seattle - 1987
  • Woman of the Year, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council -1993
  • Commercial-"Year of the Indigenous People"- 1993
  • American Academy of Pain Management, keynote speaker; Indigenous Culture: Experiences of a Native Healer - 1994
  • Native Healer presenter, Aboriginal Women and Wellness Conference, Victoria, BC- 1995
  • Presenter, Let the Earth Heal Itself CSTC- 1995
  • CUSO,with the Suzuki Foundation, "Save the Choco", for environmental preservation with South America
  • National Forestry Symposium Presenter
  • Guest with CKPG, Ben Meisner's Talk Show- circa 1996
  • Lecturer, UBC Forestry 300 - Principals of Forest Sciences and Management - 1996
  • Presenter, Strengthening Mother Earth - the Environmental Challenge - 1996
  • Presenter, HEAL Foundation, In honour of contributions to the BC Environment, Nanaimo, BC - 1997
  • Honorary Membership, "Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women" - 1997
  • Guest Lecturer, Annual Conference of Ethnobiologists - 1997
  • Health Care Conference, Vanderhoof- 1998
  • Participant in the CSFS Traditional Medicines Conference - 1999
  • Video "Warmth of Love - The Four Seasons of Sophie Thomas" produced by Terry Jacks - 2000
Sophie Thomas

   Sophie Thomas has conducted many, many workshops in Western North American to reintroduce First Nations to traditional healing knowledge.

   She's a person of knowledge; those that are currently doing their utmost to revive the traditional medicines look to her for answers. She is one of only a few individuals who retain the traditional First Nations knowledge of edible and medicinal plant use.

   She is still active in the collection, preparation and administration of herbal medicines and remains the primary Healer for many First Nations and non-First Nation peoples.

   This is just a sample of her many achievements.