Back to Indigenous Community

Smudging and other Indigenous ceremonial practices involving fire or smoke at U of T 

Indigenous ceremonial practices—including but not limited to smudging, ceremonial fires, lighting the qulliq, and pipe ceremonies—are welcome across University of Toronto campuses. Access to ceremonial elements is an important part of many Indigenous Peoples’ way of life.

Notification process

Some people may be sensitive or allergic to the smoke created during ceremonies involving fire, so whenever possible, please communicate openly with those around you.

Advance notice for planned events helps create awareness and prevent disruption, such as a triggered fire alarm. For planned events with smudging and all other Indigenous ceremonies involving smoke or fire, please refer to the notification process at your local campus (please note that these processes are being updated in 2024):

Residences, libraries, and federated and affiliated colleges may have different operating procedures. Please connect with your local residence don or facilities coordinator. Efforts are ongoing to increase access to smudging and other ceremonies for our Indigenous community on campus.

If you are a U of T Indigenous community member and encountering challenges finding a place to practice, please connect with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives:

Download a Notice of Indigenous Ceremony Poster

Illustration of a sage plant

Consider for: building entrances, hallways near or on the door of the planned space, etc.

Consider for: door of ceremony space, hallways near ceremony, etc.

Consider for: in and nearby spaces frequently used for ceremonies.

Types of Indigenous ceremonies that take place on campus

Smudging involves burning traditional medicines like sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, and cedar to produce cleansing smoke for the body, mind, and spirit. It also clears spaces of negative energies. Smudging on campus may take place for various reasons, including but not limited to:

  • preparing for an event
  • personal reasons
  • classroom activities
  • space purification

Examples of other ceremonies that happen on campus, including but are not limited to are:

  • outdoor ceremonial fires
  • lighting the qulliq
  • pipe ceremonies

Conducting and participation in ceremonies

The person responsible for conducting the ceremony should have previous experience conducting a smudging ceremony or be accompanied by someone who does. The ceremony should only be facilitated by an Indigenous person.

Related resources and policies

The University acts in accordance with the exemptions in the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 for Indigenous persons (or non-Indigenous persons accompanied by an Indigenous person) smoking or holding lighted tobacco for the purpose of carrying out traditional Indigenous cultural or spiritual purposes.

Supporting Smudging and other Indigenous ceremonial practices involving fire or smoke is in accordance with the following:

FAQs for Smudging and other Indigenous ceremonies involving smoke or fire