Red Deer students participate in aboriginal smudging ceremony

Students at Maryview School learn first hand about smudging

Red Deer students participate in aboriginal smudging ceremony

Maryview School students learned the history of smudging in aboriginal cultures last week, and on Monday classrooms took part in the prayer ceremony.

Tracy Meneen, co-ordinator Red Deer Catholic Regional School’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) Support Team, said smoke from burning of sage, cedar, tobacco or sweet grass is similar to the use of incense in Catholic services and by other cultures.

“The use of incense has been around for thousands of years,” said Meneen who explained sage was used on Monday to promote good energy, strength and clarity of purpose.

She said cedar gets rid of negative energy and brings about healing, First Nations tobacco is used to show gratitude, and sweet grass is about unification and bringing people together.

After sage was lit for each class, an eagle feather was used to waft the smoke upwards and towards each student.

“First Nations people believe the eagle and Creator have a special bond of love so the eagle feather helps take the prayers up to the Creator,” said FNMI teacher Valerie Norman.

Each class formed a circle inside or outside the school for the ceremony. Students took turns cleansing their hands and bodies in the wisps of smoke.

“We smudge our hands to do good work. We bring it to our eyes to see the beauty all around us, to our ears to hear words of kindness and positivity, to our mouths to remind us to speak kind words to others. Bring it to our heart to share all the love that has been given to us. Bring it down the right-hand side and left-hand side to ask for blessings to have strong legs to walk a good path,” Meneen said.

“And we bring it up and over to ask the Creator’s blessings for ourselves and all our relations. All our relations doesn’t just mean our family, it means the people around us. We are all God’s children. We are all brothers and sisters so we’re all related.”

It’s the second year for the FNMI program that provides staff and students with an understanding and appreciation of the FNMI cultures interwoven with Catholic faith.

“It’s bridging the gap in awareness,” Norman said.