A Gift from the First Peoples: The Sacred Fire and a legacy of values for Manitoba and the Canada Games

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Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the Turtle Lodge were invited by the Canada Games Host Society to offer an Indigenous perspective to the 50th Anniversary Canada Games. The Turtle Lodge acknowledges the Canada Games Host Society for taking a leadership role in respecting territorial and cultural protocols when holding an event on our territory. The Canada Games has provided us an opportunity to share who we are as a People, leaving a legacy around Indigenous leadership and teachings to set an example moving forward.  We are excited to share our Indigenous contribution that will capture the hearts and minds of all Youth at the Canada Games!  We want to leave an Indigenous legacy of sacred values and deep connection to the Earth that we have lived here in our homeland.  We believe these values, which provide us with instructions on how to treat each other and the Earth, will contribute to the long-term development of Youth across this country!  The Elders selected 8 Indigenous Youth as Torch runners, Water carriers and Singers on the Sacred Drum of our Nations, to play a role in the Sacred Fire and Water ceremonies on June 21 and Canada Games Opening Ceremonies in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017!


On June 21, 2017, the Sacred Fire was lit at Manitou Api, an ancient sacred site for the First Peoples. Four Indigenous torch runners ignited the torches for the 2017 Canada Games, and four Indigenous water carriers lifted and honoured the water with prayers and songs.


Grandmothers from the Turtle Lodge offer guidance and teachings to young Indigenous water carriers at the Manitou Api sacred site (June 21).


The Red Shadow Singers Drum group rendered sacred songs for the Sacred Fire ceremony at Manitou Api (June 21).


On June 21, 2017, Indigenous torch runners and water carriers made their way to the Centennial Flame on Memorial Boulevard, bringing water in copper vessels and the Sacred Fire which was lit at Manitou Api earlier that day.


Four young torch-bearers representing the Original Peoples brought the flame to Winnipeg. They were accompanied by four young water carriers, who sang at the June 21 ceremony to honour water and encourage the protection of it.


Indigenous teenagers gather on the field at Winnipeg Stadium in this 1967 photo. Fifty years ago the group relay-ran the Pan Am torch from St. Paul, Minn., to the gates of Winnipeg Stadium only to have a white athlete take the glory lap.  Thirty-two years later seven of the original ten runners completed their journey, with an apology from Manitoba, at the 1999 Pan Am Games.  Read the Story of the Frontrunners here.


PHOTO: John Woods / The Canadian Press — Fifty years after 10 indigenous teens ran 800 kilometres only to have the torch unceremoniously taken from them as they were shut out of the Pan Am Games stadium, one returned to Winnipeg June 21 to complete the journey. On National Aboriginal Day, Dave Courchene lit the Centennial Torch as a symbol of the upcoming 2017 Canada Summer Games.
Carried by indigenous athletes, a sacred fire torch is brought from Manitou Api in Whiteshell Provincial Park, to light the Centennial Torch during a lighting ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The 1967 Pan American Games’ Centennial Torch was re-ignited as part of a day of indigenous cultural ceremonies. The sacred fire will stay lit for the entirety of the Canada Summer Games, which run July 28 to Aug. 13.
See Winnipeg Free Press Story.


Grandmothers and women lead a water ceremony and sing a water song at the Manitoba Legislative Building, after the lighting of the Centennial Flame (June 21).


Elder Dave Courchene (Anishinabe Nation) offers explanation and teachings of the meaning of the Sacred Fire and the Seven Sacred Teachings at the Manitoba Legislative Building.  The Sacred Fire is an element that opens a doorway to the spirit world and carries a message of peace. The Fire reminds us of our responsibilities to be kind to one another and our duty to take care of the Earth (June 21).


Young Indigenous drummers from the Red Shadow Singers Drum group offer sacred songs at a special ceremony at the Manitoba Legislative Building on June 21.


Elder Fred Kelly (Anishinabe Nation) offers teachings about the Indigenous way of life at the Manitoba Legislative Building ceremony on June 21. In addition to Elders, Torch runners and Water carriers, the ceremony was attended by the Hon. Janice Filmon (Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba), Minister Eileen Clarke (Indigenous and Municipal Affairs Manitoba), the Canada Games Host Society, and invited guests.


Honourable Janice Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, offers words of gratitude and excitement at a special reception she hosted for Indigenous Elders, Youth and the Canada Games Host Society at the Manitoba Legislative Building, after the lighting of the Centennial Flame and Indigenous ceremonies take place on June 21.


Eight rocks, also known as Grandfathers, that were painted, smudged and ceremonially blessed by Indigenous Elders, will remain in perpetuity at the top of the Dome of the Manitoba Legislative Building. The eight rocks represent the Seven Sacred Teachings of Respect (Buffalo), Love (Eagle), Courage (Bear), Honesty (Sabe – Bigfoot), Wisdom (Beaver), Humility (Wolf) and Truth (Turtle), and their spiritual origin (Creator, symbolized by the Sun). These are values shared by Indigenous Peoples to inspire the work of the province.


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