Seven Sacred Teachings Event: A Reflection by the People of St. Peter’s

Photo: Raimond Klavins, https://unsplash.com/@raimondklavins

Love. Respect. Courage. Honesty. Wisdom. Humility. Truth.
All of these virtues were embodied by our Indigenous guests at a well-attended event held in mid-April at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg. Elder Mike Monias and Indigenous Cultural Programmer, John McKay, from 1JustCity, along with assistants Marie and Audrey, led us in learning about the

Seven Sacred Teachings. We were told what they are, how they are represented by the characteristics of specific animals, and how important and central the teachings are to particular Indigenous cultures. The multidimensional presentation of the seven teachings expanded our understanding and was greatly appreciated. 

Elder Mike Monias
John McKay
Attendees participate in smudging

But the morning together offered much more. Amidst the explanation of the teachings, Elder Mike and John shared stories, in a dignified and matter-of-fact way, about their personal experiences of trauma in their lives and those of their families. As uncomfortable as it was to hear the stories of the horrors endured, we were able to begin to grasp the impact of them, and understand why solutions and healing are so necessary. Some stories originated in our own neighbourhood, such as the forced attendance at Assiniboia Residential School and the evacuation of Rooster Town.

Elder Mike talked about his firm decision to refuse to take the road of bitterness and despair, and instead to become a wounded healer, in service to Creator, Indigenous people, and to all. In the face of the dark history that exists between settler people and the first inhabitants of this land, this was, and is, an admirable choice to serve God and neighbour. The courage and dedication involved is to be commended.

At the end of the morning, the practice of smudging was explained and we were given the opportunity to participate while Elder Mike encircled us with drumming. This was a moving experience, powerful and transformative, and increased a sense of connectedness and care for one another. 

“We have been inspired and encouraged...”

We were indeed privileged to experience the remarkable grace, courage and honesty shown by our Indigenous guests. The presentation was excellent and offered the perspectives of all the leaders involved. The elders’ candidness in sharing experiences and answering questions was a gift. We encourage other parishes to host or to participate in future events offered by these leaders. The experience of hearing the stories firsthand is invaluable.

We at St. Peter’s now recognize more fully the need to accept and move forward with reconciliation, seriously and effectively. We have been inspired and encouraged to keep on learning and to work toward healthy relationships with all Indigenous peoples, wherever we might meet.

To conclude, in a brief conversation with Elder Mike after the session, he described his feelings about the participants’ responsiveness and willingness to learn, and the opportunity to share the morning together. In effect, Elder Mike said,

“I feel light; as if I am on the wings of an eagle.”

Photo: Rachel McDermott, https://unsplash.com/@mrsrachelmcdermott

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