David Pitawanakwat on Turtle Island WalkRespect is one of the founding principles of Anishnabek culture, says David Pitawanakwat, Indigenous justice co-ordinator at Legal Assistance of Windsor.

Teachings provide guidance to living the good life

The Anishinaabe philosophy is that through living well, life continues to improve, and the seven Grandfather Teachings are considered reminders of how to do that, says David Pitawanakwat, Indigenous justice co-ordinator at Legal Assistance of Windsor.

These seven concepts are represented along Turtle Island Walk. Starting today in observance of National Indigenous Peoples Day and extending over the next several weeks, DailyNews will feature perspectives from members of the campus community on each.

“These words are the guiding foundation for Anishnabek peoples, our nation, our laws, and our ways of relating to the world,” Pitawanakwat says. “Each Grandfather Teaching is a gift the Anishinaabeg carry, a tool for living the good life, Mno Bimaadziwin.”

He says the English word “respect” does not carry the full meaning of the concept of “Piitendaagziwin.”

“What is lost in translation is the positive duty to respect the earth and respect each other,” says Pitawanakwat.

He says cultural knowledge is shared through stories and offers the example of hunting.

“Most youths today think food comes from the store, but that was a living creature with a spirit. When we kill and when we harvest, we say a prayer, we drop tobacco — our most sacred medicine. We thank the animal for feeding us. Our young people see the work that goes into growing your food. It is a spiritual exercise that is designed to instill a profound sense of respect for all of creation and the help you receive to live your life.”

He says failure to follow this teaching runs the risk of going out of control and over-consuming: “All of creation is a delicate balance that requires all of these teachings together to thrive.”

Watch for articles on the other teachings — Love, Truth, Bravery, Wisdom, Generosity, Humility — in upcoming editions of DailyNews.

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