Horizon honours smudging ceremonies in its facilities

HORIZON – Horizon’s Smudging Policy was implemented almost six months ago, and since then staff have been facilitating smudging ceremonies at the request of patients and their families.

A smudging ceremony is where traditional medicinal plants are burned, and the smoke is wafted over parts of the body, objects, or a space for spiritual cleansing. The policy provides a pathway on what to do when a request is made and how best to collaborate with patients and families to ensure their request is honoured in a respectful and timely way.

Jean Daigle, VP Community, said this policy is a significant step towards addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Calls to Action.

“Furthermore, this ties into Horizon’s patient and family centred approach to care, and our values because cultural ceremonies promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.”

The policy was developed over two years, under the guidance Horizon’s Indigenous Liaison Committee (ILC) and Population Health team in consultation with Elders, and key stakeholders.

Aaron Hatty, Horizon’s Regional Indigenous Relations Coordinator, said the policy was welcomed by leadership, staff and physicians because it provides them with supportive guidance when patients or families request a smudging ceremony.

“Prior to having a formal policy, requests for smudging ceremonies weren’t always honoured consistently due lack of knowledge or support on how fulfil these requests in a way that is culturally safe,” Hatty said. “This way, when the request is made, staff can refer to the policy to ensure it’s done in a safe and respectful way; also, staff know they can reach out to us if they require further support.”

Hatty said she is pleased to have the policy in place to ensure the safety and comfort of patients and families, while at the same time enhancing our health care workers’ cultural competency.

“Having the smudging policy provides a layer of support that ensures our Indigenous patients can access traditional Indigenous healing practices during their stay in our facilities” Hatty said.

The disparities and challenges associated with health care service delivery to Indigenous people is well documented, and this is an important step forward in strengthening Horizon’s working relationship with First Nations, while enhancing our cultural competency and the safety of our patients and clients.

The Smudging Policy is just one of the ways Horizon is addressing the Calls to Action made by the TRC of Canada. Furthermore, this aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations