Wisdom. Love. Respect. Bravery. Honesty. Humility. Truth.
These are the Seven Grandfather Teachings of Aboriginal tradition.
Anishnabe Elder Isabelle Maewasige brought these teachings to Algonquin on April 7 as part of a project led by students in the aboriginal studies program.
The cultural event was focused on helping students relax in the form of a visual activity and new trend, adult colouring.
“We were starting to see a lot of posters for adult colouring books as a stress reliever,” said aboriginal studies student, and one of the coordinators of the event, Awema Tendesi.
Each of the 50 attendees were given a colouring book with designs by Anishnabe artist Frank Polson, which they could later take away with them. These books are what inspired the event.
“We thought ‘what if we have an Elder come in and actually speak about the teachings in the book’,” said Tendesi. “We sort of came up as a class with the idea for the event.”
This was the first event of its kind at the college but there are plans to make this a recurring project for future students of the aboriginal studies program.
“They (the students) formed a club. Even if it’s a different group of students they can all belong to the same club. That’s something they can carry from year to year,“ said program instructor Louise Lahache.
Despite the unfamiliarity of organizing an event like this, Lahache was impressed with the way everything came together.
“They did something that was real,” she said. “I don’t think the students knew how much power they actually had, to create something like this and carry it out.”
The event took place in the Student Commons corner lounge, where students sat in a semi-circle, listening to Maewasige and colouring the handmade books as she spoke.
The Seven Grandfather Teachings come from the ancestors and have been passed down through generations.
“They teach us the stories that they gathered up. Some of those stories were about values, and a way of being. Almost like sacred laws on how we should be with each other,” said Maewasige during her speech. She also shared some of her own experiences and stories and closed with a meditative blessing.
Attendees of the event were given decorative plaques that were hand-made by the class of student organizers.
A feast of green eggs and ham and a prayer song was led by Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill at the Mamidosewin Centre in the Commons prior to the event. The gathering was held to recognize and honour those who will be completing the one-year program at the end of April.