Smudging and Pipe Ceremonies

Health, Safety and Environment

Responsibility: President
Authorization: President's Executive Committee
Approval Date: Jun 22, 2015

Purpose

  • To protect, promote and facilitate the practice of time honoured indigenous traditions and ceremonies, including smudging and pipe ceremonies, in support of the university’s commitment to indigenized practices

  • To provide guidance in undertaking these traditions while respecting all campus members

  • Practices related to this policy will be developed to assist organizers of smoke generating indigenous ceremonies to identify appropriate spaces, proposed communications and preventive practices to endeavor meaningful and healthy experiences for all members of the university community

  • Advantages of adopting a policy supporting indigenous traditions and ceremonies:

    • increased aboriginal student, staff and faculty engagement

    • enables recruitment and retention of aboriginal students, staff and faculty

    • reputational incline 

Principles

  • The University of Saskatchewan is committed to the diversity of its students, faculty and staff:   “We will be characterized as a place with diversified approaches and flourishing initiatives in every college and school involving rigorous and supportive programs for Aboriginal student success, engagement with Aboriginal communities, inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and experience in curricular offerings and intercultural engagement among faculty, staff and students.”  University of Saskatchewan Third Integrated Plan
  • The University of Saskatchewan is committed to facilitating traditions and ceremonies of cultural importance to student success, including aboriginally significant traditions and ceremonies while demonstrating considerable flexibility to employees that may be bothered by smoke from the ceremonies.
  • Medicinal and sacred plant materials consumed in indigenous ceremonies include sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco, all of which generate airborne contaminants alluded to in the related university policy entitled Health, Safety and Environment.  This policy recognizes the university’s priority to provide environments free from recognized health hazards while accommodating cultural integrity of indigenous traditions.
  • The university has an obligation, at law, to take reasonable steps to address airborne contaminants through appropriate ventilation.  Procedures will be developed to identify permanent locations to facilitate ceremonies, ensuring proper mechanical ventilation.  Additional procedures will be defined to establish conditions and approvals necessary for temporary use of space for ceremonies.
  • The University of Saskatchewan is committed to follow all applicable Health Canada guidelines and requirements.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, included within the Saskatchewan Employment Act states an employer is obligated to take reasonable steps necessary to provide appropriate ventilation systems, whereby an “employer or owner shall ensure the adequate ventilation of a place of employment; and to the extent that is reasonably practicable, render harmless and inoffensive, and prevent the accumulation of, any contaminants or impurities in the air by provide an adequate supply of clean and wholesome air and maintaining its circulation throughout the play of employment”.

Scope of this Policy

The policy applies to all University of Saskatchewan campus occupants.

Other than smudging and pipe ceremonies as described in this policy, smoking at the University of Saskatchewan is governed under the Smoking Policy.

Policy

The practice of indigenous traditions and ceremonies, including smudging and pipe ceremonies, will be protected, promoted and accommodated while ensuring acceptable air quality for occupants of adjacent spaces and places.  

Ceremonial protocol

Smudging and Prayer – The chair of a meeting must be informed prior to the meeting whether smudging and or a prayer will occur. If smudging and or a prayer will be part of the meeting an appropriate room will be chosen and the meeting participants will be informed prior to the meeting that smudging and or a prayer will be on the agenda.  The chair will advise the participants when the meeting will begin.

Pipe Ceremony – It is the responsibility of participants who plan on leaving a ceremony prior to its completion to inform the pipe carrier or one of the “Helpers” (oskapews - Plains Cree for helper at ceremonies). If a participant must leave due to unplanned circumstances, the participant should leave quietly and respectfully.  If an individual is invited to a First Nations ceremony and they do not wish to attend or are unable to attend, the individual is asked to decline the invitation graciously.

Responsibilities

Facilities Management Division:

  • AVP Facilities Management Division – maintain policy from a facilities perspective; oversee procedure development
  • Space Planning, Engineering and Building Automation – assist in determining appropriate spaces and space ventilation requirements
  • Room Scheduling – assist in booking appropriate spaces

 First Nations, Metis & Inuit Relations:

  • Director, First Nations, Metis & Inuit Relations – maintain policy; oversee procedure development; expand number of approved spaces available for ceremonies according to demand in various campus zones

Wellness and Safety Resources:

  • Director, Safety Resources – assist in maintenance of policy and advise on procedure development and creation of new permanent spaces

Related Documents

There are no other documents associated with this policy.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Colin Tennent, Associate Vice-President and University Architect
Email: colin.tennent@usask.ca
Phone: 306-966-4532