APTN National News
An Edmonton meet up website advertising an evening of Indigenous cuisine, a course on how to smudge and wine has drawn the ire of people across social media.
The online post that has since been removed from the single travellers site in Edmonton that offered an evening of “breaking bannock” to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and learn about the Poppachase (sic) band in Edmonton.
“Take part in a traditional smudging ceremony … smudging is a 2000-year-old tradition. Smudging helps combat negativity, clear the energy in the room and help restart anew,” the post advertised.
A meal of bison stew, bannock, corn, and dessert was served – along with red, and white wine for $40.
Many people expressed outrage that the sacred act of smudging would be paid for and go hand in hand with drinking wine.
Conversations heated up online and the post was soon taken down.
“There is no right or wrong in smudging. “since when is this an art”..tsk, tsk! Our culture is becoming white washed! And wine hmmm …” wrote one woman on Facebook.
The Papaschase Band of Edmonton was said to have been associated with the event, a claim that Chief Calvin Bruneau denied.
“It’s a very unfortunate incident,” he said. “One of our descendants is part of the singles group this event was organized for. They didn’t run it by me or an elder to see if it was ok.”
Bruneau said that other than it being disrespectful to Indigenous culture, it was a mistake that should be forgiven.
“They (organizers) don’t really know the culture, plus there was no harm intended. They just wanted to create an event to help the other singles learn some history and culture.”
One First Nation man said the issue was very emotional to discuss online because of the constant appropriation and misconceptions about Indigenous culture. But he thinks it’s important to learn from it going forward.
“We must be open and understanding,” said Martin Desjarlais. “Yes, it’s not the proper venue and we all know booze and ceremony/smudging don’t mix EVER. We must educate those who do not know proper protocols- non-native and native people alike in a good and respectful way.”
Holly Teed, the woman listed in the event information to be the one to lead the smudging ceremony, is from the Papaschase Band. She said the event was posted by mistake.
“I think it was blown out of proportion…I was raised in more of a white community so I did not know the protocol of smudging. If we are to have understanding and reconciliation then it has to be on both sides. Billi (event organizer) was only trying to help. We have apologized numerous times,” said Teed.
APTN reached out to the event organizer for comment but received no response at press time.