There has been much in the news about the devastation for First Nation People with the recovery of many children’s remains at residential schools.
Recently on social media, a few men wrote some racially charged messages that “Indians weren’t all that peaceful” either.
I thought this might be a good time to talk about the Petroglyph Provincial Park, home of the largest prehistoric indigenous rock carving or petroglyph concentration in Canada, which is nestled right here in Ontario. This sacred land is in the Algonquians and tells many stories from the stone etchings on rock called white marble exposed by glacial movements, that date back thousands of years.
When I visited this sacred land, I viewed ancient carvings depicting turtles, snakes, birds, humans and more, on the sacred site known as “The Teaching Rocks” about 3,000 years old – a place to discover the traditions of the Ojibway (Nishnaabe) people through the teachings of the medicine wheel.
The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux, are an Anishinaabe people of Canada and the northern Midwestern United States. They are one of the most numerous indigenous peoples north of the Rio Grande. In Canada, they are the second-largest First Nations population, surpassed only by the Cree.
It is believed the site was used for ceremonial purposes, vision-seeking and reflection in solitude. Ceremonies were used to give thanks, to pray, to teach, and offer ceremonial plant-medicines such as sage, cedar, tobacco and sweet grass.
During my recent visit to see the petroglyphs, there was sign sharing the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers, a set of teachings on human conduct towards others.
Nibwaakaawin – Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people.
Zaagi’idiwin – Love: To know peace is to know love. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most.
Minaadendamowin – Respect: To honour all creation is to have respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.
Aakode’ewin – Bravery: Bravery is to face the foe with integrity. In the Anishinaabe language, this word literally means “state of having a fearless heart.” To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant.
Gwayakwaadiziwin – Honesty: Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with word and action with others.
Dabaadendiziwin – Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “compassion.” You are equal to others, but you are not better.
Debwewin – Truth: Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.
It was also interesting during our tour to learn that it is in the ancient belief that “there will come a time when other nations will turn to us for the answers, for directions, how to face their uncertain future. There will a change. Nishnaabeg will be looked to for guidance and this is where the teachings of the medicine wheel, the seven gifts and the teachings rocks will help.”
Has that time come perhaps?