About the Seven Grandfather Teachings

By Garnet Angeconeb


Growing up we lived an oral tradition by passing on knowledge from one generation to the next. Not having a writing system, we couldn’t display the Seven Grandfather Teachings on a plaque mounted on a wall.

Rather, the Seven Grandfather Teachings were taught to us through experiential learning. The teachings were part of our daily existence; living with the cultural values in a natural way. By learning and practising the Seven Grandfather Teachings, we lived a good life — Menobimadiziwin. The teachings are interconnected and intertwined with each other.

In speaking so eloquently about the Seven Grandfather Teachings, an Elder said, “What you do to the child, you do to the community. And, what you do to community, you do to the child.”

I must acknowledge a group of elders and knowledge keepers associated with the Sioux Lookout MenoYaWin Health Centre. They translated the Seven Grandfather Teachings using Roman orthography into the Anishinaabe language of the region.

Love (Eagle): Saagi’iwewin

The eagle is powerful and majestic. As it soars higher towards the heavens, it carries our prayers to the Creator: a spiritual connection to the Creator. We must live love unconditionally with everyone including all of creation. Through the Creator there is love, and through love there is peace.

Respect (Bison): Manaatandomowin

The bison represents sacredness and is treated with respect. We must always have high regard for everyone including all of creation. Children are taught to always have utmost respect for the elders. We must not inflict harm on ourselves and others. To treat everyone the way we want to be treated is to have respect for all.

Humility (Wolf): Dabasenimowin

The wolf represents humility. Wolves live in packs like we live in communities, where no one is higher or lower in stature among their neighbours. In this way, we will be truly humble. To exemplify humility, we must not become arrogant and place ourselves above others.

Courage (Bear): Soogenimowin

The bear represents courage and strength. It is gifted with a brave spirit of heart. A mother bear will love and protect its family. When we protect ourselves, we also strengthen our families, communities and nations. We must meet all obstacles, challenges and barriers with an open mind and with courage.

Honesty (Raven): Gwayakwaadizwin

The raven represents honesty. We must be honest with ourselves and with others. We must be principled to always speak the truth, to be correct and accurate. We must not injure others by misusing the power of the word; not to mislead or gossip. We must speak from the heart to speak the truth.

Wisdom (Beaver): Gikendamowin

The beaver is a builder. To acquire knowledge is to earn the gift of wisdom. Like the beaver who uses knowledge to build, we need wisdom to build better relations with all. By advocating for and building bridges of good relations, through wisdom, we can create a peaceful world.

Truth (Turtle): Debwewin

The turtle represents truth. The turtle is the protector of the teachings of life. Truth is ingrained in all that we think, say and do. This is to speak about our lived experiences by being true to ourselves and others. With truth and by walking the path of the seven grandfather teachings, we will experience menobimadiziwin.

About Garnet Angeconeb

Garnet Angeconeb is an Anishinaabe originally from the Lac Seul First Nation and now lives in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

Garnet attended Pelican Indian Residential School near Sioux Lookout from 1963 to 1969. In 1975, Garnet graduated from Queen Elizabeth High School in Sioux Lookout. In 1982, he graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a diploma in journalism.

In 1985, Garnet was elected to the council of the municipality of Sioux Lookout. It was there that Garnet spearheaded the founding of the Sioux Lookout Anti-racism Committee. Today the Sioux Lookout Anti-racism continues its work with an added dimension to mandate that being the Sioux Lookout Coalition for Healing and Reconciliation. The SLCHR membership comprises of local former Indian Residential School students, clergy and interested citizens. The main purpose of he SLCHR is to promote awareness and seek renewed relations as a result of the Indian Residential School legacy. Garnet co-chairs the Sioux Lookout Coalition for Healing and Reconciliation.

About Kelly Duquette

Kelly Duquette is a Métis artist, law student and Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council representative (region 1) from Atikokan, Ontario.

Kelly Duquette is a Métis artist, law student and Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council representative (region 1) from Atikokan, Ontario. She has a four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (BFA) from the University of Ottawa. Kelly was not introduced to her Métis heritage until later in her childhood and has found artistic inspiration through the discovery of this hidden identity. She finds that she is able to connect to her Métis culture and document her personal discoveries through her artwork. Kelly is determined to remain an advocate for Indigenous peoples in the fight for legal recognition of their rights. She is set to graduate the Juris Doctor Program within the Faculty of Common Law at the University of Ottawa in the Spring of 2019.

“Following over one-hundred years of silence, assimilation and oppression within Canadian society, Métis peoples have begun to re-emerge and reclaim their culture. This unique time in our history has become an inspiration behind my artwork. Painting has allowed me to reflect on these issues relating to my hidden identity and my experience as a Métis youth. The incomplete elements of my work represent the loss of our language and traditions, while the intervention of abstract beadwork reinforces our strength and resilience as a distinct rights-bearing people.”