Friday, July 25, 2014
Text Size

First Nations teen told not to smudge before school

Stephen Bunn was accused of smoking drugs after smudging

By Connie Walker, CBC News

Stephen Bunn likes to smudge to start his day.

"I smudge just to make myself feel good and to hope me and my family have a good day... I use it to send prayers out and to stay positive."

The 17-year-old Manitoba teen lost a younger brother to suicide last year and he says smudging — the practice of burning traditional medicines — is one way that helps him cope with his grief.

"It’s important to me because when I’m feeling down, I smudge myself and it helps cleanse my body and makes me think better.... Every time I see him in a dream or my mom gets a glimpse of him, we will smudge."

Bunn is in Grade 11 at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School in Brandon, Man.

Last November, after smudging before school, Bunn was stopped by a teacher and asked if he had been smoking drugs.

He says he tried to explain to the teacher that the smell was from burning sage and not illegal drugs.

He continued his practice of smudging before school but soon ended up in the principal's office.

"The last thing the school told me was if I was going to smudge, then get your mom to excuse you for the day, get her to call in…. If I was to smudge, they wouldn’t want me to attend school."

Bunn said he stopped smudging after that because he felt embarrassed and ashamed.

"I felt pretty mad and discouraged about it. I felt like I wasn’t really … accepted because of me practising my traditional beliefs."

Earlier this week he told his aunt about the experience, and she encouraged him to continue with his spiritual practice and to make a video about his experience.

"Now that my auntie stepped in and boosted my confidence for it. When I light up sage, I just feel like how I used to feel like let’s do this and I start bringing my positive attitude back and start feeling positive again."

Bunn said he started smudging again this week and hasn't received any complaints.

School division works with aboriginal elder

CBC News contacted the Brandon School Division for an interview and received a statement back saying officials are working with an aboriginal elder "to arrive at a solution that respects aboriginal traditions, while also ensuring a comfortable learning environment for its students."

But the school board also pointed out that it has a scent-free/fragrance-free policy. "Every effort will be made to limit exposure to strong scents and fragrances in the environment that cause discomfort or impact the health of sensitive individuals."

Bunn said he hopes his video will encourage other students to keep practising their culture.  

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Write comment (10 Comments)

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

Write comment (7 Comments)

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...

OBIDIAH

obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

EVENTS

July 2014
S M T W T F S
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
Fri Jun 27 @12:00AM
Adäka Cultural Festival
Wed Jul 23 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
Asinabka Film Media Arts Festival
Sun Jul 27 @12:00AM
World Indigenous Business Forum 2014
imageimageimageimageimage
cartoonscartoonscartoonscartoonscartoons

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday

Write comment (1 Comment)

 

Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins

Write comment (0 Comments)