Seven Gifts art installation celebrated by Indigenous elders and community members
On Sunday, September 17 at the Riverfront Park in Almonte, Ontario, in the Diocese of Ottawa, Indigenous elders, special guests, and community members gathered to celebrate the opening of the Seven Gifts art installation. The traditional ceremony included smudging, drumming, the telling of the story of the Seven Gifts, and reflections on the installation by principal artists Nish Nabe and Deborah Arnold.
The project, sponsored by St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Almonte, in partnership with Mississippi Mills All my Relations, was awarded a $15,000 grant by the Anglican Foundation of Canada in 2022.
“It is hoped that through their experience of this installation, people will grow in their understanding of and appreciation for Indigenous culture and wisdom about how to live a good life,” says the Rev. Jonathon Kouri, priest-in-charge at St. Paul’s. “This will also be a place where people can come to seek healing and reconciliation in their relationships.”
The educational site, located in the heart of a residential community on the scenic shore of the Mississippi River, highlights the Seven Gifts (also known as the Seven Grandfather Teachings), which embody the heritage of the Anishinaabe people. They are:
- Truth—the turtle. “The turtle was here during the creation of Earth and carries the teachings of life on his back.”
- Humility—the wolf. “The wolf lives for his pack and the ultimate shame is to be an outcast.”
- Respect—the buffalo. “The buffalo gives every part of his being to sustain the human way of living. The buffalo respects the balance and needs of others.”
- The eagle—love. “The Eagle has the strength to carry all of the teachings.”
- Honesty—the raven or the sabe. “They both understand who they are and how to walk in their life.”
- Bravery—the bear. “The mother bear has the courage and strength to face her fears and challenges while protecting her young. To face life with courage is bravery.”
- Wisdom—the beaver. “Because he uses his natural gift by altering the environment for his family’s survival.”
Material in quotation marks from the Seven Generations Education Institute.
The Seven Grandfather Teachings art installation was one of 22 Indigenous Ministries projects supported in 2022, for a total of $216,000. Many of these grants were made possible thanks to a generous bequest from the Estate of Jane Elizabeth Campbell.