Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Court rules smudging ritual in classroom to cleanse children’s spirits is “cultural” not religious

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca) is disappointed with the January 8, 2020 Supreme Court of BC decision that allows schools to require children to participate in religious or spiritual rituals, despite parental objections to the explicitly religious aspect of “cleansing” the spirits of children. In 2015, a Port Alberni school required children to participate in a smudging ceremony whereby smoke from burning sage was fanned over the classroom, furniture and space occupied by children ’s children. In a letter to parents, the school claimed that this ritual took place for the express purposes of cleansing the children’s spirits of negative energy. Later in the school year, a prayer was offered at a mandatory student assembly.

“We are reviewing the decision with an eye to next steps,” stated Jay Cameron, counsel for Candice Servatius and Litigation Manager at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. “This is a disappointing decision for citizens from any religion or cultural background, each of whom has a constitutional right to be free from state-compelled spirituality.

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