It is the way we do things
Misipawistik isihtwawina is based on mino pimatisiwin (good life). It is about life and a Cree way of life built on nanaskomowin (gratitude/gratefulness), ayamiya (prayer/thanks), and tipwenimisowin (freedom to choose). Achieving Misipawistik isihtwawina, summarized below, allows an individual to live in piyahtakwenimowin (peace).
The Misipawistik isihtwawina guiding principles were given to the people of Misipawistik Cree Nation (MCN) by the creator. With the help of elders, leaders and knowledge keepers, the principles are now documented to help inform community initiatives, and create guidelines for conduct and decision-making in MCN territory.
The team of community members, kanawenihcikew (guardians), Elders and researchers visually rooted the principles through a traditional MCN beaded flower pattern. The five petal flower is synonymous with the territory and provided a way to represent Misipawistik isihtwawina.
“All those words are connected to our life, and we need them, and that’s why I like it that they are in there as a flower. That gives you that mino pimatisiwin.” – Stella Neff
To have a good life, one must understand their wahkotowin (relationships) with all living things. For each of these relationships there is a set of responsibilities including with aski ekwa nipi (the land and water), and other beings. tapwewin (truth), kehtawenihtamowin (wisdom/old way of thinking), nanakacihta (look after and care for), and nipohkawin (knowledge/to be wise) are all part of relationships. sakihiwewin (love) for ourselves, others, and Creation, is a tool for perseverance and rooted in relationships.
All our relationships and teachings are grounded in kistenihtamowin (respect). This includes respect for ourselves and for all of Creation. It also includes manacihiwewin (protect). Protecting and respecting things is important for relationships and contributes to kisewatisiwin (kindness). Respect also involves sasipenihtamowin (persistence), sohkitehiwin (brave/courage), ponenihtamowin (forgiveness), manacihcike (to preserve), manacihcikewin (preserve), tipitatamowin (duty), and tapatenimowin (humility). mino wicihiwewin (helping/caring/sharing in a good way) and mino wicehitowin (getting along in a good way) are also important elements of respect. akomi (be alert), nisihkac (go carefully), and papiyahtak (go slowly), are also part of respect, which informs Misipawistik tipwenimisowin (MCN’s self-determination).
Tipwenimisowin is the freedom to choose. It is informed by kawina mamanenihcike (don’t be disrespectful), macihtiwina (trouble, doing terrible things, bad behaviour), ahkwatenimo (greedy), amatisowin (a warning), pastamowin (curse yourself), pastahowin (action), ohcinewin (karma), and ohcinet (karma).
Kinanaw (all of us) have a responsibility to revitalize Indigenous languages, histories, and knowledges. okiskinohamakewak/ogiskinomagewak (teachers), koyikew (visit), ocemikisikak (kissing day), and atanohkewina (sacred stories) will help in this revitalization.
The core Misipawistik isihtwawina that guide our way of life and that have been given to us for future generations are the following: mino pimatisiwin (good life); wahkotowin (relationships); kistenihtamowin (respect); manacihiwewin (protect); nanaskomowin (gratitude/gratefulness); piyahtakwenimowin (peace); tipwenimisowin (freedom to choose); ponenihtamowin (forgiveness); tapwewin (truth); kehtawenihtamowin (wisdom/old way of thinking); nipohkawin (knowledge/to be wise); sakihiwewin (love); kisewatisiwin (kindness); sasipenihtamowin (persistence); tapatenimowin (humility); sohkitehiwin (brave/courage); mino wicihiwewin (helping/caring/sharing in a good way); mino wicehitowin (getting along).
We believe that disrespect (for ourselves, each other, or the natural world) will have significant consequences for us and for those around us. Therefore, any decisions made with respect to the MCN territory will be made in accordance with the values of respect for all life and all of our relations and must be consistent with Misipawistik tipwenimisowin (self-determination), must be guided by papiyahtak, nisihkac, akomi, and ohcinewin (cautionary principles), must take into account aski ekwa nipi (land and water), must be nehinowe ininowak ohci (for the people), and must reflect otanahk mekwac ekwa nikanik (the past, present and future).
kinanaskomitinawaw (thank you) to the Elders and kanawenihcikew who participated in the workshops and meetings. Also, kinanaskomitinawaw to Stella Neff and Dennis Daniels for the assistance with language, and to Heidi, Tracey, Becky, Linda, Devon, and others from MCN who are leading and facilitating the Misipawistik isihtwawina project for their community, the land, and for future generations of MCN.