Jessica Williams Rochester, April 16th 2009

(*) especially writen to this site

Background:

Céu do Montreal is a Santo Daime Church affiliated with CEFLURIS (The Eclectic Centre of the Universal Flowing Light, Raimundo Irineu Serra), one of the original branches of the Santo Daime religion. The church was established upon my return from the Santo Daime community of Mapia in May 1996.  Until 2000 we imported the Daime sacrament into Canada with Brazilian agricultural export documents, and practiced our religion according to church doctrines.

In September 2000, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency held a shipment of the Sacrament for analysis by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at which time we were informed by RCMP officials that due to the presence of controlled substances in the Daime that they could not release the sacrament. They advised us to apply for an exemption in order to be able to legally import the Santo Daime for religious services.

Based on this advice, in April 2001 we hired legal counsel to prepare, and submit on our behalf, an application to the Office of Controlled Substances, Health Canada, for an exemption to import the sacrament. Five years of research and examination followed, during which the officials at the Office of Controlled Substances were consistently thorough, respectful and patient with what became a lengthy and complex investigation.

The Question of Export Permission:

In September 2006 we received a letter from the Director General of Health Canada’s Drug Strategy and Controlled Substances Program, informing us that the government had concluded its investigations and approved “in principle” the granting of a Section 56 exemption. The issuing of the exemption was dependent upon the granting of export permission from the government of Brazil.
Earlier in the year the Canadian government had advised me that they were having difficulty obtaining accurate information regarding this matter. The challenge in this request was that policy regarding export simply did not exist. During the years that the Brazilian Government had been studying the Santo Daime (as well as the other Churches that use Ayahuasca as a sacrament) the focus had been on the health and safety of members and participants, regulation and protection of the plants and the feitios (making of the sacrament) and distribution of the sacrament. Although within the last 20 years, the Santo Daime had been expanding beyond Brazil, and branches were being established in many countries, export policy had not been negotiated with the Brazilian government. Export permission is of vital importance, not only for the Canadian legalization process, but for all Brazilian Churches with International branches.
In February 2006 and again in December of 2008, Ceu do Montreal petitioned the Brazilian government directly for export permission. The request for export permission was raised by Padrinho Alex Polari de Alverga, President of CEFLURIS, at the commencement of the GMT/SENAD committee meetings and then repeatedly over a period of two years. Ceu do Montreal and CEFLURIS have petitioned for documentation that would grant permission for CEFLURIS, a registered Brazilian Church to be able to directly export the Santo Daime sacrament to Ceu do Montreal, an affiliated, registered Church (registered in Brazil, with CEFLURIS and with the Office of Controlled Substances, Health Canada). Essentially, we have requested export permission for a registered Brazilian church to be able to export to a registered affiliate church in a country that recognizes the religion and permits the importation of the Santo Daime for religious purposes.

On April 8th, 2009, Padrinho Alex Polari had a meeting with SENAD representatives and Jorge Felix, the Secretary of the Legislation of the Ministry of Justice, and Senator Tiao Viana (Senator of the Sate of Acre). The government clearly affirmed their intention to answer positively our request for export permission of the Santo Daime Sacrament. They have committed themselves to sending the necessary documents from Jorge Felix, the Minister of Institutional Security to Celso Amorim, the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs for him to communicate this directly to the Canadian government.

It is our hope that this can be conducted as swiftly and efficiently as possible, in order to expedite the issuing of the section 56 exemption for Ceu do Montreal, allowing us to freely practice our religion in Canada.

To contact Jessica: j.rochester@videotron.ca

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