Opening the Door: The Story of Céu do Montréal’s Quest for Religious Freedom in Canada
Santo Daime is a syncretic religious movement originating from the Brazilian Amazon region since the turn of the 20th century. Central to the practice of the Santo Daime religion is consumption of the Santo Daime Sacrament, a tea made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and leaves of the Psychotria viridis plant, otherwise known as Daime, Ayahauasca, or Hoasca. In early 1990’s Rev. Dr. Jessica Rochester of Montréal, Québec received divine instruction while in Brazil to bring the Santo Daime religion back to Canada by founding the church Céu do Montréal (CdM). In 2001, Céu do Montréal embarked on 16-year effort to affirm the legality of the Santo Daime Religion in Canada after interception of a shipment of Santo Daime Sacrament by the RCMP. Céu do Montréal is the first organization in Canada to successfully achieve an exemption for the Sacrament in the summer of 2017 and was the first organization in Canada to receive an exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Substances and Drugs Act for religious purposes. In this talk, Robert Douglas Ferguson will provide an overview of the Santo Daime Religion, the history of Céu do Montréal, and discuss some of the principles established by CdM that helped us to achieve this exemption.
Robert Douglas Ferguson is the current Vice President of the Santo Daime Church, Céu do Montréal. He first encountered the Santo Daime in the fall of 2013 after moving to Montréal, Québec. Throughout his time as a member of Céu do Montréal, he participated extensively in the research, application writing, and consultations with various offices in the Government of Canada necessary for securing Céu do Montréal’s successful exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Substances and Drugs Act. Robert holds a Masters of Arts in Social Anthropology from York University and is a Doctoral Candidate in the McGill School of Information Studies.