A New Appreciation: Cleansing the Soul and Finding Balance

As a part of my treaty walk, I have been focusing on keeping my eyes open for opportunities that arise to further my education. I hope to take part in as many ceremonies and celebrations as I can this semester and further more as I continue on my never ending Treaty Walk. On January 12, our ECCU class had the honour of taking part in a smudging ceremony with Life Speaker Noel Starblanket. Before this point, I had the opportunity to take part in another smudge at a pipe ceremony in my second year of my degree. Even thought I was aware of what was about to occur during this experience, I still felt weary and anxious. Not because I was out of my element, one might say, but because I did not want to do anything that would be offensive. The format of this smudging for our class was a way to stand up, form a line and approach one by one to smudge ourselves.  This was very different from the smudging I took part in my second year as well as the next smudging experiences that I had, 2 weeks later at the beginning of a panel-discussion.

These two experiences were different in format as the smudging pot was brought around to each one of us in the room and was wafted onto us with a large feather. This was followed by individual cleansing by wafting smoke with our hands over our heads, heart and the rest of our body.

Having the three opportunities now to be involved in a smudging, I can honestly say that I feel very honoured to have been a part of these ceremonies. I strongly believe that as the smoke washed over my body that I took a moment to relax and focus on deep breathing and giving thanks. This is something that I as a settler, often forget to stop and do. I felt relaxed after the ceremony each time and I also felt focused. I am aware that my active listening skills were more engaged after each experiences; therefore I feel that I got more out of the discussions and conversations that occurred after the ceremony.

Disclosure: Even though I have taken part in three smudging ceremonies, I do not claim to be an expert or even in fact completely understand the symbolism of a smudge, however, these experiences have helped me gain a stronger appreciation and respect for this type of ceremony as well as I want to continue to learn about the importance of this type of ceremony as my Treaty Walk continues.

Until next time,

Miss Jenna deBoth


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