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Why We Are Here


The Need for Aboriginal Healing


On June 11, 2008, the Government of Canada offered its historic apology to the country’s Aboriginal peoples for one of Canada’s worst mistakes– the 150-year residential schools experiment. This long–awaited apology is considered an affirmation of Aboriginal peoples’ entitlement to full civil, economic, social and cultural rights, and the first step toward true reconciliation and healing.

As stated in the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, “Restoring health and well-being to Aboriginal people requires services and programs founded on an integrated, or holistic, view of human health. [The Commission noted the similar finding of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in its report, Towards Holistic Wellness: The Aboriginal peoples (Ottawa: July 1995).] One of the essential characteristics of Aboriginal health and healing systems proposed in the report is “diversity in the design of systems and services to accommodate differences in culture and community realities.”

North America’s Aboriginal peoples have always held that spirituality is central to healing, and healing is ultimately rooted in spiritual teachings and manifest in ceremonial practice. The traditional ceremonies of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples have the capacity to aid in the healing and growth of individuals and communities by restoring balance.




We believe in the seven sacred teachings as the path to leading a good life: respect, love, courage, humility, honesty, wisdom and truth.

  • That everyone has a right to his / her own spirituality.

  • That children are important

  • That spiritual education is a necessity for all people

  • That elders are teachers, healers and helpers of the creators teachings

  • That everyone is a spiritual, valuable important person

  • That everyone has the right to health and wellness

  • That virtues of tolerance, respect and freedom of individual belief are an important component of the Creator’s laws

  • That it is important to speak, understand, and preserve the language of our ancestors

  • That all the Creator’s gifts need to be acknowledged and respected.
    (eg. Pipe, drum, medicines, etc…)

  • That family is important

  • The role of men and women be respected and honoured

  • That the community is responsible for raising a child

  • That our traditional teachings, beliefs, values and customs need to be preserved

  • That we should retain our non-political perspective and treat all people equally

  • That we reintroduce past practices and traditional ceremonies such as The Rites of Passage and the Elder’s Helpers/Apprentices Program and these should be done in a traditional manner

  • That we need to establish a standard by which our community can determine for themselves who is or is not an Elder

  • That this standard be known as the Code of Conduct and/or the Code of Ethics




Definition: a series and / or group of standards by which one is to regulate one’s behavior in accordance with traditional beliefs, practices, and values.


  • Living by example (eg talk the talk, walk the walk )

  • Attitude towards women should be one of Respect, Sharing, and Caring, and in accordance to the re-teachings, nurturing, non-judgmental

  • Realizing, acknowledging and accepting one’s limitations and those with whom one interacts

  • Teachings must be lived and teachers should teach only that which they know

  • Teachers should teach to instruct, inspire, and inform never to convert

  • It should be noted that our teachings always deal with the mind, body, spirit in a holistic way, never as separate systems.

  • Teachers/ healers/ helpers should be held accountable by their peers and by the community at large to uphold the highest standard of conduct and behavior. The elders councils should therefore establish processes whereby any breaches of conduct can be dealt with and the community informed.

  • Teachers/ healers/ helpers must respect to the utmost the confidentiality the trust put upon them by their high calling. This breach of confidentiality and trust must exact an immediate consequence that will show the community that we are serious about preserving the integrity of our elders.

  • Teachers/ healers/ helpers need to develop a more formalized system in order to receive legal recognition

  • There needs to be a roster of specialization and categories to identify the kinds and varieties of elders/ helpers out there e.g.: Maadoodoson leader, Sundance leader, pipe carrier, drummer/singer, fire keepers, dreamer/ interpreters, plants/ herbalists, naming ceremonies, traditional marriages, full moon ceremonies, women teachings, story teller, medicine people, Pow wow dancers, medicine preparation, cooks / feast preparation, hoop dancers, announcers, addictions/ substance abuse, spiritual counseling

  • Languages need to be protected, preserved and used more often in ceremonies

  • There needs to be a public acknowledgement by the Elders, to the community when one assumes the responsibilities of being an Elder such as an oath to honor the Creator and the people

  • There needs to be a better understanding by all concerned that there was an is Anishinabe law and an Anishinabe philosophy

  • There should be a traditional focus by all Elders on: The Medicine Wheel, The Prayer Wheel, The Circle of Life, The Way of Life

  • There should be more of a detailed definition of what an Elder is, what his roles are, what qualifications and what criteria we need to put in place for the community

  • There needs to be a proper explanation regarding protocol, offerings, the use of tobacco, standards and rituals

  • A channel of communication is needed between Elders and people wanting to see Elders in order to ensure that the person is of “good” reputation and not an abuser of alcohol of other life forces

  • Agencies and organizations need to learn the proper protocol and approach of Aboriginal traditions before making requests

  • Balance and harmony must be regained in spirit relations

  • Distinction needs to be made between spirituality and religion. i.e. one can be spiritual without being religious or one can be religious without being spiritual

  • Elders need to be able to provide solutions to problems faced by the community as a whole and individuals seeking answers

  • Elders must use the teachings to heal and to help and not seek personal gain, fame or fortune

  • Respect must not just become a catchphrase but must actually be lived and practiced

  • One person/ Elder cannot govern another’s teachings/ spirit but harmful behavior needs to be dealt with immediately

  • It is important to recognize the many and varied teachings that need to be understood by all e.g. storytelling, legends, myths, sacred teachings, healing, clan teachings, survival teachings, etc.

  • Need to recognize what colonization has done to the teachings of our forefathers and the respect and understanding our community has as a result (i.e., Residential schools),

  • There needs to be a realization that a commitment to living this way of life is for life and not just one year, five years, whatever.

  • An Elder needs to cultivate humility as a way of life. In other words not to be selfish, greedy, or egotistical



Last Updated (Thursday, 28 October 2010 16:06)


Come into the Circle


Circle of Life Thunderbird House

As you approach Thunderbird House, one thing will be abundantly clear. It is not a place you will easily forget. Thunderbird House will open your mind to Aboriginal culture in a way you never thought possible. From the moment you walk in you will be offered positive insights into the culture and heritage of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal people.

Circle of Life Thunderbird House is a charitable, non-profit centre for hope and healing. Donations are appreciated and may be made payable to Thunderbird House Endowment Fund.

Thunderbird House is now available for private functions and special events, including business meetings, weddings, lectures and graduations. Call 940-4240 for more information.


Everyone is welcome.


Last Updated (Thursday, 28 October 2010 16:02)

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