Canadian Association of Principals Conference 2017

Pipe Ceremony and Smudging Protocols

Protocols for Pipe Ceremony (approved by and created with D. Kanewiyakiho FNME consultant for GSCS)

The pipe ceremony is a sacred way to acknowledge our relationship with Saskatchewan Aboriginal people and our connection to Mother Earth. We acknowledge its significance and its basis in all gatherings on Treaty 6 territory and its importance to Aboriginal people’s spirituality. We acknowledge that all Canadians are treaty People and thus we are honored and very fortunate to open this year’s CAP conference with a pipe ceremony.

Through the burning of sacred plants, smoke carries our intentions and prayers up to Creator. Elder, Roddy Stone, will preside over the pipe ceremony. GSCS FNM acting- coordinator Delvin Kanewiyakiho presented our Elder with tobacco on behalf of the CAP conference organizing committee. He also presented tobacco to Donald Baldhead who will be the Elder’s Helper (oskapewis) during the ceremony.

The pipe ceremony is open to everyone and will be held in the center room at the Sheraton. The pipe ceremony will begin at 7:30 AM on Wednesday Morning.

There are protocols to follow during the ceremony. We ask participants to observe these protocols carefully:

  • The ceremony begins with prayers and smudging of the sacred pipe. During the pipe ceremony, sacred plants such as tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass will be lit. We acknowledge that smoke may make it difficult for people with sensitivities and allergies.
  • Typically, men are seated on the floor in a circle. During the pipe ceremony, a pipe is passed around the circle in clockwise fashion. It is acceptable not to smoke the pipe and simply to acknowledge it. This can be done in many different fashions including lifting the pipe to one’s heart and passing the pipe on to the next person.
  • Women sit in a circle behind the men. Following long-standing custom, women do not smoke the pipe but are involved in every other way. We ask that woman participants wear a skirt or bring a blanket to cover their legs. These protocols follow woman’s teachings handed down by Elders through oral tradition.

The ceremony will last an hour and give time for participants to make their way to opening ceremonies.

Smudge Ceremony protocols: (adapted and taken from GSCS smudge guidelines and protocols)

First Nations and Metis peoples are diverse in their languages and cultures.  There are, however, common characteristics, such as the way First Nations and Métis peoples see themselves in relation to a distinct worldview.  This worldview describes humans living in a universe made by a loving Creator and endeavouring to live in harmony with themselves, one another and with the natural world.  Each Indigenous culture expresses this worldview in a different way, with different teachings and cultural practices.

A common shared experience among many First Nations and Metis peoples is the tradition of smudging.  Smudging involves the burning of one or more plants gathered from the land.  The four sacred plants commonly used in ceremonies are tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass.  The most common used in smudging is sage. We acknowledge that smoke may make it difficult for people with sensitivities and allergies. For our purposes, sage will be used.

This ceremony has been passed down from generation to generation.  There are many ways and variations on how a smudge is done.  A smudge invites people to become mindful and center themselves.  This allows people to remember, connect and to be grounded in the event, task or purpose at hand.  It is considered to be a cleansing ceremony.

Smudging is always voluntary.  People should never be forced or pressured to participate.  It is acceptable for a person to say that he/she does not want to smudge and may choose to stay in the room while the ceremony takes place or leave the room before the ceremony begins.

Typically, men are seated on west side and women on the east side of circle. During the pipe ceremony, the smudge is passed around the circle in clockwise fashion. It is acceptable not to smudge.

A smudge is led by a person who has an understanding of what a smudge is and why it is done.  That person may be an Elder, a knowledge keeper, or a cultural advisor.  It may also be a member of a school staff who is knowledgeable about the tradition of smudging.  It could be a parent, guardian or a student, as long as they are aware of the teachings and protocols.

 

The plant is placed in a smudge container such as a shell, a ceramic bowl or a metal pan.  The plant is lit with a match.  Once it is lit, the smoke may be pushed forward with a feather or fan.  The person who lights the plant smudges themselves first.

 

Whenwe smudge, we first cleanse our hands with the smoke as if we were washing our hands.  We then draw the smoke over our heads, eyes, ears, mouths and our bodies.  These actions remind us to think good thoughts, see good actions, hear good sounds, speak good words and show the good of who we are.

 

We ask that woman participants wear a skirt or bring a blanket to cover their legs. These protocols follow woman’s teachings handed down by our Elder Mary Lee through oral tradition.

We acknowledge that people with allergies may be unable to attend.