I am in the land of the Anishinaabek, people of the land of this part of Canada. And I am told by my friend Kelly Brownbill kellycswho is a canadian first nations Mi’kmaq woman of mixed lineage that the indigenous teachings here include the gifts of the 7 grandfathers:


Good words. Noble sentiments. And how does one live by therm? A friend long ago said to me that ‘a principle is not a principle until it costs you money.’ I know what he means. Words can inspire, or they can get in the way, somehow replacing the action that needs to take place.

So I muse cautiously here as a whitefella Australian. Cautious because I am standing outside the teachings around me trying to understand them and accept them for what they are. And it is seemingly not hard to do because the words make sense and are inspirational. But I am an urban person of the modern world, a pakeha, white fella, anglo-saxon (well in my case celtic, but let’s not be too fussy)…and when I hear the words I try to make sense of what they might mean to my friend Kelly Brownbill, Canadian first nations woman of mixed lineage. What do these words mean to her? And of course their meanings must be different for each of us.

And so we talk, and the snow continues to fall. And everything might just work out alright.

And here is a question. Kelly tells me that she notices lately that two of the gifts are being talked about more than the others. I made a guess as to which ones they were…what would you guess? Tick tick tick…

I guessed courage and respect.

Kelly tells me that they are humility and love. Perhaps sides of the coins of courage and respect.

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