STATEMENT OF ELDERS AND KNOWLEDGE HOLDERS
November 24, 2016 – Ottawa
On November 24-25th, 2016, a group of Elders and Knowledge Holders from First Nations from all four directions from across Canada met in Ottawa to discuss First Nation health and wellness broadly, with specific focus on the Health Accord. The following statement came out of this historic gathering:
“As the free and independent Original People of this land, the sacred pipe has helped us survive. We embrace our past, the positive and the negative. By acknowledging our traditional teachings and ceremonies we appreciate our present, and empower all youth to be strong in the future.
As First Nation Elders and Knowledge Holders, we acknowledge our responsibility to act in a peacemaking and guiding role for all people in our motherland.
Today we establish ourselves as an independent and non-partisan alliance, grounded in our love for the Earth and her natural laws.
We have a vision for health that reflects a holistic understanding that includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. This vision is grounded in our nationhood and guided by the sacred principles gifted to us by our ancestors and the Creator.
We agree that the symbols of our alliance will be the pipe, the tipi and the seven animals representing the seven teachings, which signify our connection to a way of life.
We acknowledge the crisis of suicide and depression that youth are facing across the country, and the importance of all of our roles in helping strengthen the identity of the youth.
We accept to support the movement of return to a way of life based on living in balance with the Earth, and the seven sacred teachings of respect, love, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth.
We agree to the following defined actions:
We make a commitment to commission a sacred pipe, and position it at the sacred site of Manito Api at the geographic centre of the continent. This pipe will be unveiled at the centre at Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng, Manitoba, in the New Year.
We make a call across the nation to light sacred fires of prayer on December 20-21, 2016 – the Winter Solstice.
These sacred fires will be a beacon of hope and faith for youth and others who are suffering, as well as a celebration of new children being born and youths who are succeeding in living positive lives.
We commit to gathering in 2017 at Turtle Lodge to meet and discuss ways to improve the health and wellness of the nation.
As Elders and Knowledge Holders, we each commit to bring one youth with us to this gathering, to teach and mentor them in their own identity and leadership.
We make a call to Elders and Knowledge Holders from across the country to join this alliance.
We acknowledge these efforts as a vital part of rebuilding the nation, our young people, our families and our communities.”