This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.
Approving Authority: Board of Governors
Original Approval Date: July, 2003
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: April 25, 2019
Office of Accountability: Vice-President: Finance and Administration
Administrative Responsibility: Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management
1.01 Wilfrid Laurier University acknowledges and supports on-campus use of sacred medicines for Indigenous peoples’ culture and spiritual practices. The objective of this policy is to honor the cultural implications in the maintenance of traditions and ceremonies including and not limited to smudging, and pipe ceremonies and to do so in harmony with established university smoke and fire policies.
1.02 The use of tobacco, in particular, is given special consideration with respect to Policy 7.8 Smoke Free Policy. Provisions for this are, in part, covered under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act which recognizes that smudging and tobacco use for traditional Aboriginal cultural or spiritual purposes are exempt.
1.03 The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the use of all sacred medicines is performed in the safest possible manner and in compliance with all applicable legal requirements, including the right to equal treatment to and freedom from discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
2.01 Pipe ceremony: an Indigenous traditional practice carried out by a pipe carrier. The ceremony produces smoke from the lighting of sema (tobacco) which is also one of the sacred medicines.
2.02 Smudging: a spiritual ceremony using sacred medicines such as sweet grass, sage or cedar for spiritual purposes. It involves an open flame burning process that creates a relatively small amount of smoke and emits a noticeable aroma.
2.03 Traditional use of tobacco: tobacco used for ceremonies, prayers and rituals for spiritual significance and meaning.
3.01 This policy applies to all buildings and property owned, leased and operated by Wilfrid Laurier University.
3.02 Permission for the use of Indigenous traditional medicines is subject to any lease or rental restrictions.
4.00 The following steps must be taken prior to and when sacred medicines are burned as part of Indigenous culture and spirituality.
4.01 Indigenous Use of Traditional Medicines policy should be used in conjunction with the 7.12 Open Flames on Campus Policy.
4.02 With the exception of rooms designed for the purpose of burning Indigenous traditional medicines, an audit of the location must be completed by the Emergency Management and Fire Safety Officer to ensure alternative provisions to create proper ventilation (open windows etc.) are in place and adequate.
4.03 The location where traditional medicines are planned to be used must be approved by Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (SHERM) prior to the burning of the medicines by obtaining the appropriate permit in advance (see Related Policies, Procedures and Documents section below).
4.04 If traditional medicines are to be used as a part of an event such as a class, a workshop or a conference, approval of the location must be requested one (1) week prior to the event by using the Use of Traditional Medicines Location Permit.
4.05 For repeated use of traditional medicines in the same space, the Use of Traditional Medicines Ongoing Location Permit must be used. Use of Traditional Medicines Ongoing Location Permit must be approved at the beginning of each semester (Fall Semester: Sept. – Dec., Winter Semester: Jan. – April, and Summer Semester: May – Aug.).
4.06 Any smudge may be burned in an earthen-ware bowl, large shell, or other fire proof object during periods of prayer and meditation.
4.07 There must not be excessive burning (to avoid the tripping of fire alarms and/or sprinklers).
4.08 All appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure other combustibles are not ignited.
4.09 Matches that are used for the ignition of medicines must be wetted down before they are disposed of.
4.10 A fire extinguisher must be made accessible and a person trained in its use must be present at all times. For training, please contact SHERM.
4.11 An inspection must be made by the person designated to oversee the burning of traditional Indigenous medicines to ensure the material has been fully extinguished at the end of the ceremony.
4.12 Room(s) must be well ventilated.
4.13 The Smudging Location Notification form must be posted on the room door(s) to indicate that the location is approved and to serve as notification to those that are sensitive and/or allergic to smoke.
Note: If any of these legal provisions are modified, abrogated, superseded, or added to, the policy will be interpreted in accordance with the new legal framework.