SAGKEENG FIRST NATION -- Yesterday, 95 post-secondary teachers from universities and colleges across Canada gathered with Elders and Knowledge Keepers at the Turtle Lodge Central House of Knowledge in Sagkeeng First Nation, Manitoba, for a day of ceremony and teachings, as they began the first day of their 2019 National Conference of the Annual Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
Anishinabe Elder Dave Courchene, founder of Turtle Lodge, opened the day with a welcome and laid a foundation of understanding the importance of knowledge that comes through knowing one's identity - one's spirit. He spoke at length about Indigenous Peoples' relationship with the Earth as a mother and the source of life for all, encouraging all to love the land, and to seek comfort, one's identity and purpose, and understanding of natural laws and spiritual values, by connecting to the land.
A Pipe ceremony and Water ceremony were conducted, and songs rendered on the traditional ceremonial drum, as participants were offered the opportunity to enter into the world of the Indigenous - experiencing ancient and powerful ceremonies while offering their own prayers and connecting with their own spirit.
Grandmother Mary Maytwayashing of the Anishinabe Nation offered prayers of gratitude for the water, speaking to the role of women as life-givers and those who have the strongest role in speaking for the water.
Grandmother Katherine Whitecloud of the Dakota Nation encouraged the teachers to listen and learn from the young people that they are teaching, and to consider what type of education is most relevant to youth - an education reflecting moral values, roles and responsibilities to family, community, human family, the land and all of Creation.
Anishinabe Elder Dr. Harry Bone spoke about the meaning and significance of the Treaties, encouraging teachers to expand their curriculum to offer an Indigenous perspective on nationhood and the missing history not being shared about the origins of Canada.
A film by Cree youth filmmaker Erica Daniels, Mikinakay - Trail of the Turtle, was shown, sharing the powerful story of two Indigenous youth finding themselves through entering Indigenous rites of passage and coming of age ceremonies.
Afro-Indigenous youth leader, inspirational speaker and former professional football player, T-Dre Player, shared powerful words of his own recent experience on a Vision Quest, as he went to the land to find clarity, meaning and purpose in his own life.
Anishinabe Traditional Teacher Troy Fontaine shared some understanding of traditional healing and medicines, that are being introduced at the local Giigewigamig Traditional Healing Centre at the Pine Falls Hospital.
Robert Maytwayashing, a Traditional Teacher of the Anishinabe Nation, shared a condensed 600 year history of the Indigenous experience since newcomers arrived on the continent, challenging stereotypes and encouraging participants to feel welcome in the ceremonial environments of Indigenous Peoples, where they could best feel and experience the beauty of a way of life that is experiencing a resurgence - a way of life that has something positive to offer all Peoples of the world.