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Wisdom: Indigenous artist helps promote learning about the Seven Grandfather Teachings

Ontario Legislative Assembly and Seven Generations Education Institute promote learning about the Seven Grandfather Teachings and their meaning.
Garrett Nahdee
Garrett Nahdee, shows one of the carvings he has carved and is now displayed in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly.

TORONTO—With the help of Indigenous artist Garrett Nahdee, the Legislative Assembly has added illustrations of the Seven Grandfather Teachings. They will serve as a reminder of the history of Indigenous people in Ontario and symbolize new connections, relationships and opportunity.

Garrett Nahdee is a self-taught artist from Walpole First Nation who has travelled across Canada and the United States. Realizing he had a passion for art, he began painting and carving and now is a full-time professional artist.

Nahdee shares his own views about the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Garrett says they are “great leadership traits, and when they are practiced in everyday life, you will see changes in your life. Burdens will be lifted, and bitterness will deplete. Uplifting your spirit to soar to another level of progress. I truly believe in the Seven Grandfather Teachings, and teach them when I can.”

He explains “Let’s begin with eagle, the spirit of Love. Through one’s journey living through Love, one will gain Respect, and with love will respect others. So, with Love and Respect, we abide in the Truth. Being true to oneself will bring Humility. Humility is a reflection of Wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge, which guides you to be humble. In the end, it takes Courage to be Honest, Courage to defend the Truth, Courage to always Respect and Love all of Mother Earth’s gifts.”

The Seven Generations Education Institute, which is an Indigenous-led education organization that provides high school, post-secondary, training for employment and cultural programming to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the Treaty Three area and beyond also use and teach the Seven Grandfather Teachings.

This institute which began in 1985 as the Rainy Lake Ojibway Education Authority, today provides culturally enriched quality education to more than 20 communities across Treaty #3, one of which is an extensive description of the Seven Grandfather Teachings and their meaning.

The Seven Grandfather Teachings: Their guiding principles?

The Seven Grandfather Teachings are a set of Anishinaabe guiding principles that have been passed down from generation to generation to guide the Anishinaabe in living a good life in peace and without conflict.

These teachings have been adopted by many Indigenous organizations and communities as a moral stepping stone and cultural foundation. Each community has adopted the teachings to suit their community values.

Regardless of where these teaching originated these communities share the same concepts of abiding by moral respect for all living things.

Since these teachings are relatable and encompass the morals that humanity aspire to use as guidelines for living, the Seven Grandfather Teachings are among the most widely shared Anishinaabe principles.

These teachings provide multiple ways in which one can enrich their life while living in peace and harmony with all creation.

The story behind the Seven Grandfather Teachings

It is believed by Indigenous communities that the Creator gave spirits known as the Seven Grandfathers the responsibility to watch over the Anishinaabe people. The Grandfathers sent Messenger to earth to find someone to spread and share Anishinaabe values.

The Messenger found a baby and was instructed to take the baby around the earth for seven years. Its purpose was to learn the Anishinaabe way of life.

After their return, the grandfathers gave this baby who was now a young boy, seven teachings to share with the Anishinaabe people. These are: love, respect, bravery, truth, honesty, humility and wisdom. , each teaching was presented in Anishinaabemowin and the linguistic breakdown of each word.

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