The Seven Sacred Teachings for Fall

As shared by Brenda Rivers, Indigenous Grandmother

 The theme this year for our CDSBEO Indigenous Education day, which will be held on Wednesday May 3rd, 2017, is on the power of the Seven Grandmother/Grandfather teachings, (The title depends on whether it is a Grandmother or a Grandfather who is giving us the sacred teachings). 

The Seven Sacred Teachings are Honesty, Humility, Truth, Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery.  The following is a way of seeing these teachings in a practical way.

As you review the traditional teachings of our Indigenous brothers and sisters and incorporate them into our classroom practice, we recall the message of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops when in their Pastoral Message to the Native Peoples of Canada, May 1999, they stated, “…we wish to reaffirm that the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in aboriginal traditions.  Moreover, the Church encourages all its members to recognize, preserve and promote the spiritual, moral and cultural values found within your traditions and to work together with you in a spirit of prudent and charitable dialogue and collaboration….the Spirit of God is building among us a Church that never ceases to proclaim salvation in Christ, while also demonstrating in its liturgy, education, pastoral ministry and in the very life of Christians, deep reverence and respect for the cultures and spiritualties of aboriginal peoples.”

 With these words in mind, we look forward to witnessing the learning and spiritual growth that will occur as our students embrace these longstanding spiritual teachings.  We recall the words of scripture that call every person, indigenous and non-indigenous, to share in the holiness of God.  “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”  Leviticus 11:44


Fall sits in the West on the Medicine Wheel.  One of the most beautiful gifts Creator gave us is in nature. As Human Beings we find change difficult. Nature teaches us that change is inevitable. With the change of season, the Maple Tree teaches us that change can be beautiful.

Fall sits in the West- as does Sage, the Black Bear, and Water.

At this time of year we are preparing for winter, just as all of Nature is preparing. The animals are stashing food; the plants and trees, swimmers, crawlers, and flyers are preparing for winter as well.

If we do like the bear and hibernate (go inside ourselves), we can find the COURAGE to be HONEST with ourselves. Like the Maple Tree, we all have something we need to let go of. And although the beautiful colours that the Maple Tree produces is a gift of beauty, it is only on the surface.  It will need to let go of its beauty, to let it fall to the ground.  Nature knows what needs to be done to be in balance and to be healthy. Even though it worked hard to produce this beauty (with Creator’s help), the tree needs to let its leaves go in order to prepare for the next stage.  When the leaves fall to the Earth they will benefit the little Creatures that will use them for shelter and warmth. They will decompose and provide nutrition to all the plant life that is around it.

This teaches us that, like the Maple Tree, when we let go of those things that no longer serve us, it will have not only a great benefit to ourselves but to everything around us.  We can also use this season to not only prepare physically, but spiritually. When we think about our Grandmother/Grandfather Teachings and how they apply, we gain great insight into what we can do to have a “good life”.

So when we have the COURAGE to be HONEST with ourselves and we can FORGIVE our past mistakes, the hurt we may have caused to those we LOVE begins to heal.  We begin to have greater RESPECT for ourselves.

Hurts may include:

  • not taking good care of our physical bodies, as well as our emotional selves and our spiritual selves.
  • pushing ourselves too hard. For trying to be everything to everybody and in the end not honouring our own needs and spirit.
  • not having enough Trust in Creator. We need to trust that we are being taken care of and that Creator has a plan for all of us. We need to trust that we can let the things that are heavy go, and to understand that it is okay that we will never achieve perfection. It is difficult to TRUST as humans, we like to be in control. If we look around we realize we really don’t control anything, except our choices.

So if we can HUMBLE ourselves and understand this teaching by being HONEST with ourselves and admit our imperfections, we will be free to do what we need to do to put our lives back in balance.

In order to truly live this teaching, we need to:

  • apologize to those we may have hurt,
  • accept our mistakes as a Teaching,
  • try not to take on too much to the point of being stressed out,
  • take better care of ourselves physically,
  • find a way to feed our SPIRITS by discovering whatever brings us JOY, LOVE and RESPECT,
  • Express daily our GRATITUDE for the WISDOM we gain when we learn from our mistakes. Gratitude for having the COURAGE to go inside and the COURAGE to TRUST Creator as we let go.

Fall is a time of year when there is a lot of work to be done to prepare for Winter.  Let go of your expectations of being perfect and that you are in charge. Trust Creator. We are not alone and Creator will guide us if we allow it.