Monday, September 26, 2022

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Starting today is Truth and Reconciliation Week here in Canada, when we pause to reflect on the history of residential schools and the impact they had on indigenous communities.  The week culminates in Orange Shirt Day on Friday, where we specifically remember the children lost at residential schools.

But there's much more to truth and reconciliation than residential schools.  We can learn a lot from indigenous communities and the orange-painted crosswalk in downtown Meaford reflects this, for it refers to the seven grandfather teachings.  This photo shows the crosswalk when it was first painted orange.

When they added the white feathers for a day or two it showed our limited knowledge of indigenous culture, for they painted 11 feathers.  I happened to catch it a few days later still, when they returned and painted out four of the feathers, leaving seven.
They later returned and repainted things properly to show 7 feathers, representing the seven grandfather teachings.

The seven grandfather teachings are part of the Anishinaabe culture, that group of indigenous tribes who surrounded the Great Lakes, from Quebec to Minnesota and from Ohio almost to Hudson Bay.  Importantly, they seem to me to reflect the beliefs of any modern church in our culture.  The seven teachings are:


J would be happy to try and live by these principles myself, they seem usefully simpler than the theology that I have learned and continue to hear at church.  So as I said, though Orange Shirt Day and the lost children will be the focus for many this week, there is much more to gain from reconciliation as we learn more of indigenous culture.


  1. Wonderful. I hope there is some info near the crosswalk so that the message gets out to people.

  2. there is much waiting to be learned about aboriginal culture.

  3. Orange Shirt Day and 7 teachings, something for me to take seriously down here. The lost children are a massive tragedy. Gone in circumstances I cannot bear to imagine. I will type the 7 principles out and have them to read every day.

  4. There will be an event here in town on Friday. I probably won’t attend, but my orange Tee is ready for the day.

  5. I'd not heard of the 7 grandfather teachings before - they are definitely tenets to live by. My father was not a religious man but displayed these principles in his life time. One of the lessons I've learned from my interactions with First Nations, is their willingness to share with one another, no matter how little they may have.

  6. We have so much to learn from other cultures.

  7. Thank you for teaching me these grandfather tenets to live by. Wonderful, and I wish we had something like your Truth and Reconciliation Week!

  8. The peoples who were here prior to the arrival of Europeans had wisdom that has seldom been acknowledged by the majority culture -- what a tragedy.

  9. Interesting. Well, when a culture assumes that it is superior, that leads to a long list of errors.

  10. I agree with your thoughts about those seven simple words. Aboriginal people have had their ways and beliefs for eons of time and it has served them well. That is until the white man came along and forced his ideaologies upon them. I like the thinking behind The Seven Grandfather Teachings.

  11. Our open borders are creating child abuses beyond belief. Being covered up because the people in charge think we will never find out. We already have found out and the stories down the road with this situation will be bleak.