Community members are invited to enjoy Anwebi Aki: A Place to Rest and Reflect at the Aaniin Community Centre and reflect on the Seven Grandfather Teachings.
Unionville High School students Erin Chan, Shayla Fullerton, Lina Lam, Iris Li, Ryan Ma, Roslyn Nip, Victoria Nip, Simran Panchal and Abbie Si worked with Anishinaabe artist Donald Chrétien to design seven wood sculptures that were crafted from two large trees donated by the City of Markham.
Sculptor and visual arts teacher Shane Clodd, head of Unionville High School’s visual arts department, taught the students how to carve. The project is supported by York Region District School Board’s First Nation, Metis and Inuit team and Indigenous Elder Mike Ormsby and Knowledge Keeper Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone.
The Seven Grandfather Teachings are love (Zaagi’idiwin), represented by the eagle, respect (Manaaji’idiwin), represented by the buffalo, bravery or courage (Zoongidi’ewin), represented by the bear, truth (Debwewin,) represented by the turtle, honesty or integrity (Gwayakwaadiziwin), represented by the raven, humility (Dabasendizowin) represented by the wolf, and wisdom (Nibwaakaawin), represented by the beaver.
Each sculpture has a bowl carved to receive tobacco, a sacred medicine that symbolizes a mutual exchange of energy. The number four is significant in the Anishinaabe Way of Knowing. Each Anwebi Aki is composed of three carved animals that represent one of the Seven Grandfather teachings. Participants become the fourth elements when engaging the sculptures physically, intellectually and emotionally when resting with and reflecting upon their meaning.
“The wisdom of the Seven Grandfather Teachings are guiding principles central to obtaining balance in one’s spirit and community,” Clodd explains on his website at shaneclodd.com. “From this point of departure all cultures that call this land home can find common ground from which to begin their learning is service of building a stronger community.”
The installation was unveiled on June 23 during National Indigenous Heritage Month. The Aaniin Community Centre & Library is located at 5685 14th Ave., just east of McCowan Rd.
Main photo: Indigenous Elder and Storyteller Mike Ormsby at the Anwebi Aki unveiling event on June 23.