The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sage smell: Manitoba school tells native youth he can't smudge before classes

  • Print

BRANDON, Man. - An aboriginal teen in Manitoba says his high school told him he couldn’t smudge before classes because the strong smell of sage violates a scent policy.

Stephen Bunn, 17, attends Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School in Brandon. He says the native tradition, which involves the burning of sage, makes him feel closer to his younger brother, who was 15 when he killed himself in June.

He says that earlier this school year staff approached him and his sister and accused them of coming to school smelling like marijuana.

Bunn said the final straw came in November when a teacher took him to the principal's office. On the way, he said, the teacher was telling students not to touch Bunn and pushing them out of the way.

"I was embarrassed and was starting to get mad," Bunn told the aboriginal television network APTN.

The teen said there was no mention of the scent policy in the meeting and the principal asked Bunn if he was smoking weed.

"He said it was school policy that he ask me," said Bunn. "It’s obvious it was sage."

In December, Bunn's mother, Sandy Bunn, said she got a call from one of the school’s vice-principals.

"'We want you to notify us when he does (smudge) so we can send him home for the rest of the day,'" Bunn’s mother said she was told.

She refused.

"'You need to educate your staff on the differences … sage doesn’t smell like weed,'" she said she told the vice-principal. "Why should he have to miss school for this?"

The Brandon School Division said in a statement Wednesday that it "actively promotes and encourages respect of a variety of religious and cultural practices, including the practices of our First Nations students and their families."

The board said it has asked an elder to work with staff and students to ensure smudging is done so as to minimize any discomfort to others.

It cited privacy reasons for not commenting on Bunn's case specifically.

Bunn said he is still smudging and hasn't had any problems.

He has posted his story on YouTube because, he said, he wants everyone to know what happened.

(APTN)

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Blake Wheeler talks about past season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Manitoba needs stronger regulations for temporary workers?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google