Sage-Burning Student Who Was Smoked Out of Classes May File Human Rights Complaint
Clothes reeking of cigarette smoke? No problem. Dabbed a bit too much perfume? That’s ok. Early-morning smudging making you smell like sage? Stay home.
That’s the message that a Brandon, Manitoba high school gave one of its students, 17-year-old 11th grader Stephen Bunn. He was told by Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School officials not to attend classes because he smelled like sage after smudging at home beforehand. Though Stephen has since returned to his studies, the policy used against him remains in place, though unenforced.
The school ruling was reminiscent of middle school student Tenelle Starr's predicament when she was told not to wear a hoodie bearing the words, "Got Land? Thank an Indian."
For Stephen, the school district's insistence that he was only sent home earlier this month because of their no-scent policy to protect allergy sufferers, amid complaints that the school was “unfairly and unjustly branded as racist,” is hypocritical. He said he may file a human-rights complaint.
“That's all just a big lie,” the Birdtail Sioux First Nation student told Indian Country Today Media Network. “They let all kinds of students stink of perfume, and they have no problem with it. They've never enforced that rule on anyone but me.”
He even described what he called a “smokers corner” near one exit of Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School, and said that students who attend classes reeking of cigarette fumes go virtually unnoticed by authorities.
“They don't get sent home,” he said. “I used to smoke. Every time I smoked I'd go to school smelling like cigarettes, and there was no problem. But when I quit smoking and started smudging before school, they said no.”
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