Animated series ‘The Seven Sacred Laws’ brings to life oral history

An Anishinaabe elder and a Manitoba filmmaker are teaming up to create a new animated series that brings stories that have been passed orally for generations, to life.

The Seven Sacred Laws is a new animated series that follows a young boy on an Indigenous rite of passage of a vision quest.

During his spiritual journey, he meets seven sacred animals that teach him how we as people should live our lives on mother earth.

“We’re the people that know about the land. You know one of the things that know, no matter what Indigenous community I go to, you know you always feel the expression of the love that they have for the land you know. And that’s where we derive the love that we have in our heart is from the land, it’s instinctive in us as Indigenous people,” Sagkeeng First Nation Elder Dave Courchene told APTN News.

Courchene wrote the series after years of sharing these stories with numerous people and Indigenous communities.

The seven animals each offer a gift and understanding of how we as people should live our lives on Mother Earth.

The buffalo represents respect, the eagle love, the bear courage, sabe or Bigfoot represents honesty. A beaver represents wisdom with the wolf representing humility and the turtle meaning truth.

The seven sacred laws are ancestral values that inspire our conduct as human beings, and bring us back to a relationship with the earth.

“I’ve always believed that we are the true leaders of our homeland. It’s not a political leadership I’m talking about, it’s spiritual, morale leadership of you know how to be kind and how to have a sacred relationship with the land,” Courchene said.

Created by Manitoba’s Peg City Pictures Inc., the animated series is a partnership between Manitoba 150, a committee formed in 2020 to celebrate 150 years of Manitoba’s history, the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Wellness in Sagkeeng and IG Wealth Management.

Erica Daniels is a filmmaker from Peguis First Nation who has worked with Courchene in the past.

She directed this series and said joining the project was an easy decision.

“When they told me about the project they were doing I was just so excited because this is an opportunity for us to share the beautiful values we live by, you know those natural laws but they’re very much universal laws for all people so you know the goal is to really share these with a wider audience, you know especially young people,” she said.

Daniels added the series is important for everyone to learn, not just Indigenous people.

“This series I think really brings hope to that future of allowing young Indigenous people to reconnect with their culture and like, introducing them to those sacred lodges and to these teachings. But also, to educate the wider audience, you know non-indigenous people,” she said.

“I think they’re willing to listen now and just having some light and hope, I think that’s what this series brings, is a beginning for people to kind of seek a truth and start learning about our history and our values and our culture I think that’s so important.

“My main goal for this series is that it be shared in schools across the country for all ages not only children but younger youth and young adults as well because they’re such important values for all people to live by, Indigenous and non-Indigenous to take these values because they are universal values and it also is an opportunity to educate people on who Indigenous people truly are and our values that we live by and the beauty of our culture.”

Daniels hopes the video can help people learn about their own culture and fully understand what these teachings mean.

“We’re really trying to bring people back and revitalize our culture, our languages, our ceremonies and se this is a big step forward to be able to share these laws from an Indigenous perspective because a lot of people are aware of these seven sacred laws but don’t know the origins but may not know the history or the actual teachings behind them,” Daniels said.

“So to have it coming directly from our sacred lodge and from our elder is so important.”

Courchene also believes these videos can inspire those that want to learn their own language and culture after watching these videos.

“The more that you’re able to learn about you know the origins and the creations of their own stories you know you begin to learn the language because within the language embedded is that identity. And I know that a lot of our people don’t speak the language but we shouldn’t shame them. We encourage them to make an effort and that’s all we can do,” he said.

The vignette series is available online in English, French and Anishinaabe.

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