Nanaimo Courthouse, where a B.C. Supreme Court case on smudging at school was heard this fall. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo Courthouse, where a B.C. Supreme Court case on smudging at school was heard this fall. (News Bulletin file photo)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Smudging ceremony wasn’t a demonstration

It is inappropriate to involve students in any spiritual ceremony with prayer, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Province argues smudging relates to curriculum, Nov. 26.

The desire of the province to teach children the history of indigenous people in British Columbia is appropriate and long overdue. It is especially important to correct the errors of the past to help indigenous students feel more included in the school system. Teaching cultural practices will help other students understand them more and will help the indigenous students feel more supported.

Smudging is a cultural practice that has a spiritual aspect that involves praying and the idea of cleansing. This can be taught to students by demonstration by elders or older indigenous students. However, there is a difference between a demonstration and a ceremony. This ceremony has the students involve themselves in a process that includes a spiritual aspect. It is not an official religion but it is just as inappropriate to have the students in the public school system involved in an indigenous spiritual ceremony as it would be to involve them in a Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist or any other spiritual ceremony that involves prayer which is no longer allowed.

There is also the question of the idea of the health question. Smoking of any kind is not allowed in public buildings in B.C. so how is having smudging inside a classroom not violating that law?

B. Collinge, Nanaimo

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Religion shouldn’t be forced on students

RELATED: ‘Our culture is not a religion,’ indigenous educator tells Nanaimo court in case of smudging at school


The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.