Who Are The Elders?
There is a large number of First Nations across the country, embracing
some 55 languages and major dialects, and constituting 11 linguistic
families. The definition of an Elder varies from nation to nation.
For example, the Six Nations' definition of their Elders include:
Faith Keepers, Clan Mothers, Hereditary Chiefs and Spiritual Leaders.
The Algonquin Nation in their teachings an Elder is defined as someone
who possesses spiritual leadership which is given by one's cultural
and traditional knowledge. This knowledge is found in the teachings
and responsibilities associated with sacred entities such as the Pipe,
Wampum belt, Drum and Medicine people. In addition to the spiritual
recognition given by the Creator and the Spirit World, and elder is
given the title and recognition as elder by other elder of his/her
respective community and nation. Also one does not have to be a senior
citizen to be an elder. The gifted individual is given the position
of elder by spiritual and human acceptance and must commit to fulfill
his/her responsibilities and respect of the Creator's teachings. Other
nations have their own definitions, but their functions are basically
the same: to ensure that traditional values, principles and other
teachings are passed along, and to provide instruction to help individuals
live in the right way.