7 fires, 7 sacred teachings: Winnipeg students learn about Indigenous values
Dozens of Grade 5 to 8 students gathered at The Forks to learn about the seven sacred teachings
Smoke from seven fires wafted through the air at The Forks Tuesday as dozens of junior high students from across the city sat in circles to learn about the seven sacred teachings in Indigenous culture: truth, honesty, courage, respect, wisdom, humility and love.
Community activist and event organizer, Clayton Sandy, says it's important that the next generation is educated about Indigenous peoples and their beliefs.
"I'm hoping they can take the information home, share it around their table with their parents, their siblings, or with school mates who aren't here. To teach them something different or special about Aboriginal people," says Sandy. The event was also open to the public in the afternoon, which included things like teepee building and making crafts.
Sandy is hoping participants — Grade 5 to 8 students — not only learn but leave with a different understanding of who Indigenous people are and their role in the wider community.
He worries children get the wrong idea about Indigenous people when they hear something negative or see an altercation on the street. He is hopeful today's lesson in the sacred teachings will change that perception.
Dana Connolly, a volunteer with the Manitoba chapter of the Institute for International Women's Rights, took part in the sharing circle. Both Connolly's grandparents were part of the residential school system and she says that played a role in how she was raised. Connolly struggled with poverty, healthy relationships and having to deal with the death of her partner at a young age. She says discovering who she was through the seven teachings helped her gain confidence.
"If you can't respect yourself, you can't respect other people. You have to have good and healthy relationships yourself," says Connolly.
Riel Dubois is a youth leader in Winnipeg. He didn't know what to expect at the event, and he was pleased to see so many kids learning about the significance of the teachings.
"I'm hoping they feel good inside themselves. They are young people, I know what it's like to be in junior high. From what I see in them, they were uplifted, they were smiling."