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Smudging ceremonies at Saskatoon Correctional Centre under review

Saskatoon

The Saskatoon Correctional Centre is reviewing its policy on smudging ceremonies following staff complaints about odour and second-hand smoke, says a Ministry of Justice official.

Policy review follows staff concerns over odour, allergies

Jason Warick · CBC News ·

Some Saskatoon Correctional Centre staff have complained about the odour and second-hand smoke from smudging ceremonies. (CBC)

The Saskatoon Correctional Centre is reviewing its policy on smudging ceremonies following staff complaints about odour and second-hand smoke, says a Ministry of Justice official.

Smudging typically involves burning sweetgrass, sage or other materials. It’s a common spiritual practice for many First Nations and Métis people.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief Heather Bear said smudging “is a vital part of our culture” and hopes access to the practice is not affected.

She said it helps Indigenous inmates with their rehabilitation. Smudging also keeps them calm and decreases stress, she said, which makes the jail safer for everyone.

“It’s paramount to have access to that healing.”

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief Heather Bear said smudging is a vital part of First Nations culture. (Brandon Harder/CBC)

In an email to CBC News, the ministry official said previous complaints at Regina and Prince Albert jails led to a restriction on areas where smudging is permitted.

The official said no matter the conclusion of the review, smudging will still be available to Saskatoon inmates in some form.

The official said the government is committed to providing these and other cultural services to First Nations and Metis inmates.

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