Those who smudge regularly will tell you that it helps them feel calm, clear-headed and grounded, which is why many perform the ritual before their workday begins.

Smudging—an Indigenous tradition where sacred medicines are burned as a way of cleansing negative energy—is also done during prayer and ceremony and offers cleansing and healing benefits through the smoke of burning the medicines (sage, sweetgrass and cedar). 

On September 27, the Sarnia refinery unveiled Suncor’s first smudge-friendly reflection room. This space allows people to smudge without the risk of setting off the smoke alarms or needing to seek approvals, making the experience easier and more inclusive.

Refinery staff worked with Sarnia Fire and Rescue Services, Aamjiwnaang First Nation Elder Ishkode-Aanakwadokwe (Lynn Rosales), the Environment, Health and Safety team and leaders to create a policy for smudging in this space. 

As part of the unveiling, the Sarnia refinery Workplace Inclusion Network (WIN) and Suncor’s Indigenous employee network, Journeys, welcomed Ishkode-Aanakwadokwe to site to share her wisdom and teachings about smudging and other aspects of Anishinaabe culture. 

A group of people, including an Indigenous Elder who is holding feathers standing alongside firefighters, smile at the camera. There is a table in front of them with a seashell, bundles of cedar, sage and tobacco, and a braid of sweetgrass on it.
On September 27, the Sarnia refinery unveiled a smudge-friendly reflection room on site. 

“Opportunities like this are a way to bridge the understanding between each other,” says Ishkode-Aanakwadokwe. “The most important thing is that we move forward together to be the change that needs to take place to bring love, kindness, acceptance and understanding of each other back into our hearts.”

The reflection room, like other reflection rooms across Suncor, is a place for quiet meditation or prayer of any faith or denomination. As part of the ongoing Journey of Reconciliation, which focuses on relationships with Indigenous Peoples, and Suncor’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, the team at the refinery are pleased to be the first site at Suncor to have a smudge-friendly space.  

“I’m both excited and tremendously proud that the Sarnia refinery is leading the company in creating this important space,” says Conor Poutney, Vice President, Sarnia Refinery. “It marks another great step forward for inclusion and diversity at the Sarnia Refinery.  A big thank you to the WIN and Journeys teams and everyone else who contributed to make our reflection room a reality.”