Brenda Mercer was at the Saamis Tepee on Thursday evening holding a smudge kit workshop. A group of seven people, with a couple from Ontario, joined the workshop to learn about the land, Indigenous medicine and how to create a smudge kit.
Mercer brought sage, sweetgrass, raw tobacco and cedar. Sweetgrass is often used for ceremonial purposes and sage, more abundant in this area, is often used for day-to-day smudging. Smudging is a spiritual practice that invites in positive energy, and the number of times per day it is done is an individual choice. Morning, before meals, before or after meetings, or anytime negativity needs to be cleansed away.
Two different kits were shown, Blackfoot and Cree, which Mercer explained are very different. Rather than using abalone shells, Mercer brought small cast iron pans and told a story of how hot an abalone shell can get and, if left on a wooden table, will leave a permanent burn mark.
There are many different ways to smudge and Mercer explained her method. A feather is used to smudge to connect the person to the element of air and birds, which fly and are closer to the Creator.
She also stated the importance of never throwing out the smudge but to wait until it has stopped burning and is cool before giving it back to the earth. At Miwaysin Friendship Centre, where they often smudge five or six times a day, they save the burned smudge and then someone will take it out, perhaps to the river, to release it back to the earth.
By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 19, 2023