Smudging is an Indigenous spiritual ceremony that involves burning sacred herbs as a way of cleansing and healing the mind, body, and spirit.
Smudging services have been available to Indigenous clients at The Royal since 2016 and an official policy supporting the practice is being developed this year.
The smudging ceremony is a significant part of Indigenous healing and is practiced by Indigenous peoples in Canada and other parts of the world.
While there are variations of ceremony, it typically involves burning sweetgrass, sage, cedar, and tobacco in a dedicated vessel, such as a shell.
Smudging is a service provided by specially trained spiritual and cultural associates at The Royal’s Ottawa and Brockville sites. (Indigenous clients and families can also request to speak to an Indigenous community leader for smudging or for emotional support.)
The team uses tools and supplies sourced from local Indigenous businesses.
“Smudging is available to clients who request it,” says Cathy Hum, a social worker and the professional practice lead for The Royal’s spiritual and culture care services. “We respect and value the diversity of faiths, cultures, and traditions that make up our hospital community and we aim to foster a compassionate and inclusive environment where everyone feels respected, supported, and connected.”
“We have clients from different cultural and religious communities. Religion and spirituality are often a part of the recovery process and as a center of excellence, it is absolutely our goal to provide informed care grounded in cultural humility.”
Hum says the organization is taking the right steps but there is still a lot of work to do.
“We are on a path moving forward,” reflects Hum. “That path includes building partnerships in our community, developing programming and training plans but most importantly, continuing to keep our eyes and ears open to our clients’ needs.”
The Royal’s spiritual and cultural care team works in collaboration with Royal staff to promote holistic care and cultural humility. The team provides a wide range of services for clients, families, and staff including chaplaincy, space for meditation and prayer, as well as resources and information about religious and cultural events and holidays.
“The Royal’s spiritual and cultural care services respect and value the diversity of all faiths, cultures and traditions that make up our hospital community,” says Hum.