March 26, 2019, THUNDER BAY, ON – Confederation College is proud to have celebrated the opening of a Smudging Room on campus today. The room will be used for traditional ceremonies, including smudging, and offer a quiet place for Elders to meet with students. Smudging is a ceremonial practice of purification or cleansing.
“We have a longstanding and strong commitment to supporting Indigenous learning and culture at Confederation College,” said Kathleen Lynch, Confederation College President. “We are very proud to open this Smudging Room, signaling to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of our College community that they are welcome and encouraged to learn about and take part in this and other cultural and spiritual practices through the dedicated space. The new room is a way for us to honour the cultural diversity of our campus and our ongoing efforts towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples as outlined in our Strategic Plan.”
S. Brenda Small, Vice-President, Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning added that “Smudging is a very personal and significant ceremony for Indigenous peoples. This new space is a promise from Confederation College to recognize and respect Indigenous students, employees, elders and partners in practicing this custom.”
Participation in smudging is always voluntary. As a consideration for those in the College with sensitivities to smoke or fragrances, the Smudging Room has been designed to help contain the smoke and minimize the amount that may diffuse in adjacent areas. An exhaust fan has been installed that will clear the room of smoke following each ceremony. The location and décor of the room were also carefully selected to integrate nature, which plays an important role in Indigenous cultures.
The new Smudging Room will be managed by the Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning to ensure equitable access for all who wish to use the space.
This addition to campus is just one of many initiatives Confederation College is taking in pursuit of truth and reconciliation. Another effort of note is its systemic racism audit that is nearing completion after several months of consultation and research. Carried out by a diversity and inclusion organizational development firm, phase one of this work has included a review of key policies and the provision of feedback on areas where systemic or institutional racism or discrimination may arise from administration of the policy or procedure. Phase two of the project has entailed a review of practices among key departments, which has included interviews with managers, employees and students. Confederation awaits the final report and recommendations from its consultant, after which an implementation plan will be developed through an inclusive and collaborative process.
Confederation College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967 meeting the educational needs of students in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres. Along with its main campus in Thunder Bay, Confederation College has eight regional sites located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Geraldton, Kenora, Marathon, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Wawa.
Confederation College delivers exceptional education and training to an average of 6,500 combined full- and part-time students per year and currently has a total of 850 full- and part-time employees. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $643.4 million annually.
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