Where the title Elder is used we are specifically referring to the Traditional Elders. For the purposes of visiting Traditional Elders or Traditional Teachers to the University of Manitoba please note the following:
Traditional Elders/Traditional Teachers are members of Indigenous communities who hold respect in their communities. Their life experiences reflect the knowledge, values, beliefs, and practices of their particular Indigenous communities and nations, and of Indigenous nations generally. They continue to live on a daily basis in a way that is rooted in the knowledge, values, beliefs, and practices of Indigenous peoples. As such, they are seen as carriers of Indigenous knowledge and positive role models in their communities. While Elders are often elderly, age is not necessarily a pre-requisite to be recognized with this role/title.
Some areas of Indigenous knowledge and expertise include ceremonies, language, healer/medicines, history, ecology and/or environment. Most Elders will usually specialize in one or two of these areas. Also, there are many Elders/Teachers who have a great deal of general knowledge of the culture in their specific Nations but may not necessarily have the gifts to speak on all areas. For example, an Elder/Teacher may have historical knowledge of the Peoples, or the culturally based knowledge, but may not have the community/spiritual requirements to perform or share information on specific ceremonies. For another example, not all Elders who perform ceremonies ‘do healing work’. Thus, in a similar way as to how knowledge is held by someone with a Ph.D., multiple areas of expertise are rare, so it is advised that you are to be specific in your request when asking an Elder to contribute, or when asking for a referral.
Please note that there are individuals who identify themselves or are identified as Elders. Some of these individuals are recognized by their communities as knowledgeable of, and with a worldview and belief system based in Christianity. There are other individuals recognized by their communities as knowledgeable of, and with a worldview and belief system based in a blending of Christian, new-age, and/or Indigenous ways of being. There are also people who promote Aboriginal culture for their own personal and/or financial gain. Finally, there are people who are elderly, but are not consciously aware of, nor live in a way that is rooted in the knowledge, values, beliefs, and practices of Indigenous peoples.
For the purposes of TPAC and information shared by us, we use the term Elder/Traditional Teacher only in the Traditional sense.