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VTRA Fair Notice September 2017 (Violence and Threat Risk Assessment)
Today we will be having a community smudge in connection with reconciliation. Many of you may already know much about smudging and some many have questions. The following excerpt I believe covers some of the questions you may have or students may have.
The following is an excerpt from Smudging Protocol and Guidelines For School Divisions Aboriginal Education Directorate
Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning 2014. It defines the purpose, tradition and practise of smudging in schools.
What is Smudging?
Smudging is a tradition, common to many First Nations, which involves the burning of one or more medicines gathered from the earth. The four sacred medicines used in First Nations’ ceremonies are tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass. The most common medicines used in a smudge are sweetgrass, sage and cedar.
Smudging has been passed down from generation to generation. There are many ways and variations on how a smudge is done. Historically, Métis and Inuit people did not smudge; however, today many Métis and Inuit people have incorporated smudging into their lives.
A community Grandmother presented the following as the steps and rationale for this cleansing process we call smudge to Niji Mahkwa School in Winnipeg:
- We smudge to clear the air around us.
- We smudge to clean our minds so that we will have good thoughts of others.
- We smudge our eyes so that we will only see the good in others.
- We smudge our ears so that we will only listen to positive things about others.
- We smudge our mouths so that we will only speak of well of others.
- We smudge our whole being so we will portray only the good part of our self through our actions.
Smudging allows people to stop, slow down, become mindful and centred. This allows people to remember, connect and be grounded in the event, task or purpose at hand. Smudging also allows people to let go of something negative. Letting go of things that inhibit a person from being balanced and focused comes from the feeling of being calm and safe while smudging. The forms of smudging will vary from nation to nation but are considered by all to be a way of cleansing oneself. Smudging is part of “the way things are done” and is part of living a good life.
Smudging is always voluntary. People should never be forced or pressured to smudge. It is completely acceptable for a person to indicate that he/she does not want to smudge and that person may choose to stay in the room and refrain or leave the room during a smudge. Respect for all is the guiding principle in any Aboriginal tradition.
How Do We Smudge?
The act of clearing the air, mind, spirit and emotions may be accomplished in a variety of ways but according to First Nations’ practice, a smudge is led by a person who has an understanding of what a smudge is and why it is done. That person may be an Elder or cultural teacher who has been invited into the school; it can be a staff person who is knowledgeable about the tradition of smudging; it can be a parent/guardian; and/or it can be a student.
The medicine is placed in a smudge container. The container may be a shell, a ceramic or stone bowl, a copper, brass or cast iron pan. The medicine is lit with a match. Once the medicine is lit, the smoke may be pushed forward with a feather or a fan. The person who lights the smudge is first.
The commonly used medicine in schools is sage. A “smudge ball” is created mainly from the leaf of the plant, which is rolled into a ball for burning. It is important to understand that this particular medicine can create a significant billow of smoke, which emerges from the smudge ball. It is not necessary to create enough smoke to fill the entire space where a group is smudging. Only a small stream of smoke for the person who is smudging is required. Therefore, it is important for the helpers who create the smudge ball to keep it relatively small.
When we smudge, we first cleanse our hands with the smoke as if we were washing our hands. We then draw the smoke over our heads, eyes, ears, mouths and our bodies. These actions remind us to think good thoughts, see good actions, hear good sounds, speak good words and show the good of who we are.
What Does Smudging Look Like in a School Environment?
Many schools are making the tradition of smudging a part of their practice during particular events or as part of the school day.
Social Justice Sponsors Community Supper!
Congratulations to our Social Justice team! They raised their goal of $1000 to sponsor the community dinner this month. They will be preparing and serving dinner February 20th, 6:00 pm at the Legion. Make sure to join them!