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ME: Behaviour/Values

COMMUNITY: Symbols The Seven Grandfathers

“Based on  traditional  Indigenous  worldview,  core  values  exist  as  a  set  of  protocol  to   inform  actions  and  behaviours.  Anishinaabe  tradition  speaks  of  the  Seven  Ancestors   who  were  given  the  responsibility  by  the  Creator  to  watch  over  the  people  of  the   earth.  The  ancestors  realized  that  the  people  were  not  living  life  to  its  fullest  potential,   and  sent  a  helper  to  find  a  human  who  would  be  taught  how  to  live  in  harmony  with   Creation.    A  child  was  selected  to  bring  these  teachings  back  to  the  Anishinaabe.”     (“The Ways of Knowing Guide”, Toronto Zoo Ways of Knowing Partnership Turtle Island Conservation Programme; Bell, N., E. Conroy, K. Wheatley, B. Michaud, C. Maracle, J. Pelletier, B. Filion B. Johnson, 2010, p. 60).

Each Grandfather gave the boy a great gift: Zaagidwin (Love); Minaadendmowin (Respect); Aakdehwin (Bravery); Gweyakwaadziwin (Honesty); Dbaadendizwin (Humility); Debwewin (Truth) and Nbwaakaawin (Wisdom). Each teaching is inter-related with the rest -- you cannot have Wisdom without Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth. To leave out any one of these is to embrace the opposite of what that Teaching is. The circle represents "ngo" (one whole/unity). When the Grandfathers are applied "as one", each forms an important part of the circle and so are practised together for an honest life. The “Seven Grandfathers” are foundational to Anishinaabe behaviour and values. These Grandfather Teachings are passed on for future generations and help us function today providing direction and balance in our lives. These support our responsibilities in the universe...for us to take care of the earth and the community of life. Grade 1 and 2 Classroom Focus In grade 1 and 2 opportunities to explore Love and Respect will spontaneously occur. In the life stage known as childhood, love and respect are particularly relevant. The first seven or eight years of a child’s life are crucial as this is the time that they spend almost exclusively with parents/ guardians who demonstrate love and respect in all aspects of family life, especially in their way of relating to the child. When the child’s circle of social and personal development expands outside of the mother-child bond and the immediate family-child influence at around age 7 or 8, the parent(s) accept this stage and respect the child’s independence. This supports the child to establish and develop relationships with friends and to venture into circles

Cultural Concepts and Teachings


ME: Behaviour/Values

COMMUNITY: Symbols

within the community (school, sports, hobbies/interests, ceremony, celebrations). The child naturally carries and applies the foundational values of love and respect outwardly in how they interact with the world around them. Of course many opportunities will arise in the learning environment that demonstrate or relate to each of the Seven Grandfather Teachings and teachers can identify these and highlight connections. 1. Zaagidwin (LOVE) Children come to us from love. We love them unconditionally and we love ourselves and our path in life. Parents demonstrate love within their relationship with each other and towards their children so that children experience and understand love. The residential school experience damaged this crucial aspect of loving family relationships. Cooperation and sharing emerge from a place of love and mean that the individual’s relationships are peaceful. 2. Mnaadendmowin (RESPECT) Respect is a natural outcome of love. When we love the child, we treat them with respect for who they are and they in turn respect our loving ways and our relationship as their parents. The respect extends outward from the family to the community and nation. Respect for oneself, Mother Earth, elders, family and community leads the individual to acquire self restraint and self discipline. The attitude of respect acknowledges the inter-connectedness of all living things and speaks of honouring the sacredness of this connection between all of Creation (The Ways of Knowing p. 60). 2. Aakdehewin (BRAVERY) Bravery helps us to make the right choices along life’s path in difficult situations. It takes Bravery to say “No” to peer pressure. When courage is applied, a sense of self contentment and peace is assured.

Cultural Concepts and Teachings


ME: Behaviour/Values

COMMUNITY: Symbols

4. Gwekwaadziwin (HONESTY) "Gweyakwaadzid naagdoon gweyamok miikan" An honest person has integrity and follows a straight path." The eagle feather symbolizes the Teaching of Honesty as it reminds us that to ignore any of the Grandfathers means that the opposite comes into our life. A feather has a straight path with positive and negative aspects. When we step off of the path, negativity comes into our lives and we work towards balance which brings us back onto the straight path so that we can experience positive things in life. A person who holds the eagle feather is honest and behaves with good intentions. 5. Dbaadendizwin (HUMILITY) When we are humble we understand our place as inter-related and equal with all things in our natural world. To have humility is to not place ourselves above others regardless of job, possessions, accomplishments or abilities. This is our responsibility as it protects the safety and well-being of community and means peaceful relationships and a harmonious life. We say miigwech for our miraculous life and to Mother Earth for providing everything we need to sustain us. 6. Odebwewin (TRUTH) We walk with dignity, demonstrating our true way of being by our values, beliefs and actions. The Anishinaabe teachings exemplify our Truth. Odebwewin means, “What one utters comes from the heart.” 7. Nbwaakaawin (WISDOM) Life experience and in-depth understanding create vision about the interrelationship of all things and the natural order of life. A person’s age does not define whether or not they carry the wisdom of an Elder.

Cultural Concepts and Teachings

SevenGrandfathers