Kookoonaan answers questions from a child about parents, customs and our Seven Teachings.
Q. Why does my friend have different parents?
A. Well, maybe their parents are sick and can’t look after them anymore. Sometimes this happens.
But in our community we have people and a place where those people can call for help. It is a place that looks after those children in need of a place to stay and a home to live in.
For the children it is a shock and everyone knows that, including the parents, so a worker is assigned to help the family, and of course the child.
But the people involved have made a promise and have sworn to look after the child in the best way possible, until the parent or their relatives can provide a home again.
If they can’t then they go to 'Foster Parent'”. But that has changed now to a more traditional way of doing things. We call it Custom Care or Kinship Care. So, only if all else fails, sometimes a Foster Parent, who is not a relative, will look after them.
Q. Do those parents know of our customs?
A. Not all of the time. But as Anishinaabe People, we make sure workers do everything they can to ensure that our customs are taught and are followed. Elders just like me have a direct say on how these traditions are taught and shown.
Q. Is it working Kookoonaan?
A. Well before you can become a Foster Parent you must show that you know or are willing to learn our customs.
Q. Do they teach our customs in school?
A. Yes. Its schooling, but they call it training or learning. Elders like me are brought in and they teach them about the Seven Teachings of our people.
Q. What are the Seven Teachings?
A. The Seven Teachings are all about Love. Love is the eagle flying high above us all. It is the truth, honesty, wisdom and humbleness in our hearts. These are the four tests that we bring back to the people that explain what true love is. Love is family, a partner, or our people.
The Bear of Courage teaches us to defend that love at all costs, if it is true. And the Buffalo that feeds us all teaches us to respect that love. Those are the Seven Teachings that we were given.
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