New smudging program makes Indigenous tradition accessible to all

Bundle of sage for indigenous smudging ceremony

York University’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & Languages (CIKL), an interdisciplinary research centre that supports Indigenous and decolonizing scholarship, launched a new smudging program late last year to provide all students, faculty and staff with a welcoming place to clear their minds and experience the benefits of sacred Indigenous medicines.

Practised by many Indigenous people in Canada and around the world for both medicinal and spiritual purposes, smudging ceremonies typically involve prayer and the burning of sacred medicines such as sweetgrass, cedar, sage and tobacco.

Rainingbird Daniels
Rainingbird Daniels

Rainingbird Daniels (Cree/Souix/Dakota from Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan), CIKL’s current work-study student and special projects assistant, came up with the idea to introduce a smudging program at York in October 2023. It was approved and launched the following month, and resumed on Jan. 9 following the winter break. 

“The smudging program is a way to support all/Indigenous students, faculty and staff by offering the four sacred medicines in Indigenous (Native American) culture,” said Daniels. “This was implemented so the smudge is accessible for everyone, regardless of their situation.”

Daniels hopes this program will help community members start their week with positivity and provide a safe place to pray and/or gain knowledge about traditional Indigenous practices. 

The smudging program, which runs every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in 353B York Lanes, is open to all York community members (Indigenous/non-Indigenous). For more information, visit the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & Languages.