Edgewater Giving Thanks Quilt Project 2023

submitted by Sue Simatos, First Nation, Inuit and Métis liaison

“Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen” “We Give Them Thanks” 

Grade three students at Edgewater Elementary school have been learning about the “Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen” “The words that come before all others” an ancient message of peace and appreciation of mother earth and all her inhabitants. This is very important for the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people, the people of the Longhouse.
Students participated in a workshop to introduce the teachings and also watched a beautiful video created by Jake Swamp Tekaronianeken explaining the process of “Giving Thanks”. “Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen”.

Brenna Macbeth (L) and Lynne Mercier (R), teachers at Edgewater

Jake Swamp-Tekaronianeken was a Wolf Clan Mohawk diplomat, author, teacher, chief, husband, father, grandparent and great-grandparent.
He was a founder of the Tree of Peace Society, an international organization promoting peace and conservation. Chief Swamp delivered the Thanksgiving Address throughout the world, as well as at the United Nations. He was born on the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation.
He invited all nations from around the world to come together in Peace, by inviting them to learn about the teachings of the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace. One very important first step to becoming peaceful, as a human being, is by showing appreciation and “Giving Thanks” to Mother Earth and all her inhabitants each morning when we rise. By doing this we become peaceful and of good mind to make good decisions, in a good way, for ourselves and others.

The video helped to inspire students to select an inhabitant of Mother Earth they felt was important and they wanted to spotlight. Students then painted this image onto a piece of cotton. Students then explained why this element was important in French. All the pieces were sewn together to create a quilt.
The writings then accompanied the final quilt to help explain it to parents during Parent Teacher night. Students now had a deeper understanding that not only did the Haudenosaunee live in Longhouses that this was also a very important teaching and Way of Living Life for them as well.

Ms. Lyne Mercier’s grade 3 students learn about the Iroquois Way of Life in grade 3 Social Studies class. Students also build Longhouses. In addition, Ms. Lyne Mercier organizes for the students to visit Droulers, an archeological site and life size reconstruction of Haudenosaunee Village. As you can see from the photos the students were very appreciative of having had this opportunity.

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