Confederation College honours truth and reconciliation with the opening of a Smudge Room

Regional News

Confederation College Shuniah Building
Confederation College Shuniah Building

THUNDER BAY, ON – The opening of a Smudging Room on the second floor of the Shuniah Building at the Confederation College campus was proudly announced on March 26, 2019. The Smudging room will be available all day every day.  One can even book an evening in a quiet space for yourself or a group, like an elder and a student to cleanse the spirit from negative energy.

Confederation College has opened a new smudging room
Confederation College has opened a new smudging room

The new Smudging Room will be managed by the Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning to ensure equitable access for all who wish to use the space.

In the beginning of the smudging ceremony, the removal of your jewellery, glasses, hat, watch and accessories to purify the body and spirit in prayer with the heartfelt seven sacred teachings of love, truth, honesty, bravery, respect, humility and wisdom and ending with offering the sacred ashes of the smudge ball outside by a tree or on the Earth praying of gratitude.

When burning the ball of smudge, metaphorically, you wash your hands with the sacred smoke and cleansing your mind,  eyes to see the beauty, cleansing your ears to hear sharply of the wisdom and your mouth to speak kind words and cleansing your heart to love unconditionally, smudging your feet to step in the right way, carrying you in the right direction.

Always remember if you didn’t pick the medicines, pray that the medicine was picked with a blessing of good faith before you light it with sacred fire. Smudging can be useful when feeling depressed, angry, resentful, or a presence of unwanted energy, like after an argument or experiencing some form of sadness.

Cleansing your spirit with the four main medicines: sweetgrass (weengush) the sacred hair of the Earth, our Mother, Cedar (keeshik) for healing and protection, Sage (sukodawabuk) helps you prepare to ease a troubled mind. Tobacco (semah) begins all things, announcing your intentions.  Certain plants give up their lives so that we can use their smoke for prayers and cleansing, and the aroma produced by these plants help us to concentrate on what is happening, perhaps awaken the soul and give a sense of direction in prayer.

 “Smudging is a very personal and significant ceremony for Indigenous peoples. This new space is a promise from Confederation College to recognize and respect Indigenous students, employees, elders and partners in practising this custom.” says, S. Brenda Small, Vice-President, Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning.

Kathleen Lynch, Confederation College President stated, “We are very proud to open this Smudging Room, signalling to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of our College community that they are welcome and encouraged to learn about and take part in this and other cultural and spiritual practices through the dedicated space. The new room is a way for us to honour the cultural diversity of our campus and our ongoing efforts towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples as outlined in our Strategic Plan.”

The consideration for those in the College with sensitivities to smoke or fragrances, the Smudging Room has been designed to help contain the smoke and minimize the amount that may diffuse in adjacent areas. An exhaust fan has been installed that will clear the room of smoke following each ceremony. The location and décor of the room were also carefully selected to integrate nature in Indigenous cultures by Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning.

This addition to campus is just one of many initiatives Confederation College is taking in pursuit of truth and reconciliation.