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The Seven Grandfather Teachings (IRA1-V11)


This video presents the teachings that are often described as embodying the core values of First Nations Peoples.

Duration: 00:08:32
Published: June 15, 2017
Type: Video

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The Seven Grandfather Teachings



Transcript: The Seven Grandfather Teachings

The Seven Grandfather Teachings - Back to basics for Public Servants

Sacred Teachings reflecting the core Values and Ethics Code

Dominique Rankin playing drum at the Iskotew Lodge

Stéphane Romain

It is said that the drum represents the heartbeat of a nation.

In aboriginal cultures, drums are sacred. Things like that are important for you to know if you are a Government of Canada employee who will be working with First Nations.

To help introduce you to aboriginal culture, we would also like to tell you about the Seven Grandfather Teachings. They are teachings that are often described as embodying the core values of aboriginal philosophy.

Turtle - Truth

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

In the Native culture, we say that Mother Earth was created on the back of a Turtle - Miskwaadesii.

The Turtle represents truth because it is one of the oldest animals on our planet, and it is said to have witnessed Creation.

The laws of time and life are recorded on the back of a Turtle. The Turtle is grounded, methodical, careful, and attentive to details.

They are important qualities for those who speak the truth.

Stéphane Romain

The Turtle leads us on the path to truth. In working for the public, this is a key fundamental value. Truth inspires us to provide our services in an authentic, non-partisan and impartial way.

Like the Turtle's back, on which the cycle of life is inscribed, these democratic values are inscribed in all of our decisions and actions. By moving slowly, but surely, the Turtle also reminds us that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Buffalo - Respect

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

The Buffalo - Bashkode-Bizhiki - represents respect because for as long as we have been here, the Buffalo has sustained our lives through clothing, food and shelter.

The Buffalo is a tool of life to live harmoniously with a sense of balance.

Stéphane Romain

The Buffalo shows us the importance of respecting ourselves and others. By treating our colleagues as we want them to treat us, with respect and dignity, we take in consideration their values and ideas and, in doing so, enhance our own.

Like the Buffalo, the organization can represent this wealth of resources it provides to us. In this way, the organization pushes us to maintain respect toward one another in order to work in harmony.

Sabe - Honesty

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

The Sabe - Kitchi-Sabe - is a mythical giant who is a symbol of honesty.

The Sabe represents honesty because it is believed that the Sabe used to walk among humans to remind us to remain true to our nature. The Sabe keeps us aware of being ourselves, and not someone we are not.

Stéphane Romain

The Sabe evokes the principle of honesty, which is so essential in our work. By being honest and staying true to ourselves and our professional values, we can avoid any kind of conflict of interest and maintain the trust of our colleagues and the public.

Being honourable in all of our actions allows us to maintain a healthy and thriving work environment. The Sabe is there to remind us to be ourselves and to remain honourable.

Wolf - Humility

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

The Wolf - Ma' iingan - represents humility because of its giving nature and devotion to protecting and working for the good of the Wolf family and the welfare of the pack.

Stéphane Romain

At work, our pack is our team. By pooling all of our knowledge in the interest of the team as a whole rather than only for ourselves, we are striving for the excellence of the community and, as a result, the entire organization. The Wolf has a protective instinct for its entire pack. And, like him, we work as part of the group, for the benefit of the group.

Beaver - Wisdom

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

The Beaver - Amik - has impressive teeth and has the knowledge of how to build. If he doesn't use his gift, his teeth will grow until they will hinder him.

That's why the Beaver uses his gift wisely to have a positive impact on its environment and create a more sustainable world. The Beaver's wisdom also means knowing what our limits are, with respect to our body and the life around us.

Stéphane Romain

The Beaver always acts thoughtfully. He takes full advantage of his resources to make sure they do not go to waste. At work, the Beaver reminds us how important it is to efficiently use the funds, property and resources for which we are responsible.

Knowing how to use what we are given to manage and to act with discretion are wise lessons the Beaver can teach us.

Bear - Courage

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

The Bear – Makwa – has strength and natural ability to overcome challenges. A mother bear will stand against a much larger, stronger male bear or other threat to protect her cubs.

It's believed that the Bear calls us to awaken the potential within ourselves and to stand up for what we believe in.

Stéphane Romain

The Bear teaches us that we can draw from our strengths to overcome difficult situations we might face at work. For example, when we are confronted with times of distress as a result of issues related to harassment or discrimination, the Bear reminds us of our ability to turn things around by acting with courage and determination.

Eagle - Love

Narrator (Naomi Blondin)

The Eagle - Migizi - represents love because of its unique relationship with the Creator. Only the Eagle has the ability and strength to fly higher in the sky than any other animal, therefore placing it closer to the Creator than all others.

Aboriginal people hold the Eagle feather close to their heart and consider receiving an Eagle feather to be the greatest gift.

Stéphane Romain

The Eagle reminds us how vital it is to have a visionary approach to our work and to do it wholeheartedly. Like the Eagle, when we soar high above, we get an overview of all our accomplishments. We get a better understanding of the situation, of ourselves and others through a broader spectrum.

The Eagle teaches us to act with compassion, vision and acceptance. And this represents the core values that guide our work.

Stéphane Romain

Understanding the spiritual meaning of these Sacred Teachings, and how they can guide us, even at work, could help us avoid falling into a trap of assumptions and generalizations.

Dominic Rankin playing drum at the Iskotew Lodge.

Host: Stéphane Romain
Manager, Aboriginal Programming
First Nations ans Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada

Narrator: Naomi Blondin
Coordinator, Aboriginal Programming
First Nations ans Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada

At the drum: Elder Dominique Rankin
Spiritual Leader
Algonquin Hereditary Chief

Music: Twin Flames, song "Winds of Change"
Thanks to Jaaji and Chelsey June

Design and Concept: Creative Services
Sean Upton
Matthew Davis
Patrick Sauvé
Daniella Jovanovic

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