The Seven Sacred Teachings
At the core of the Neecheewam philosophy are seven sacred teachings. They include Love, Respect, Honesty, Truth, Humility, Wisdom and Courage.
When Neecheewam employees work in harmony with the seven sacred teachings and embody the principles of love, truth, humility, honesty, courage, wisdom, and respect, then they will create an atmosphere in which our children and youth can flourish. It is important for employees to use these teachings to guide them throughout their day to day work.
Love comes before all things. Honouring Life and all it has to teach us is Love, even when those teachings may be difficult to accept or understand. Learning to Love ourselves is the greatest gift and being able to share that love with each other, is the first Teaching. Love is carried by the Eagle. Love is at the center of what we do at Neecheewam, all other values are built upon, and around the premise of love. Many youth we work with have misperceptions of the idea of love, and we work hard to show them true and genuine love. We want to show youth that love is not transactional. We demonstrate love through tolerance, respect, patience and humility, both for ourselves and for the youth in our care.
Providing food, shelter and a welcoming place is only the first step to whether we accept or reject circumstances, we must respect them. Respect is carried by the Buffalo, who offers his entire being to give us food, clothing, and shelter, we learn safety from them as the strongest encircle the very young, weak and old to keep them safe, they teach us belonging and love as they care for each other and they teach us esteem as we honour their strength and gifts to each other and to us. Respect is demonstrated by listening to youth, validating their feelings and emotions around their circumstances and holding space for them to move forward in their healing journey at their own pace and will. Contrary to mainstream teachings, respect is not earned; respect is granted by virtue of the life that is before us and because we demonstrate respect, the youth will emulate that, and begin to respect themselves and staff.
Honesty is carried by the Sabe, who is the keeper of medicines. The Medicines can not lie, they are shared for ailments and there is a call to honesty in dealing with medicine. Honesty is the healing of the people. Honesty is demonstrated by the sharing of information and perceptions between both the youth and the adults in our facility. While it is sometimes difficult to ensure honesty from the youth, it is within our ability to hold honesty in high regard in our conversations with the youth and to build the relationship in a healthy way so that the integrity of the relationship carries on long after they have left our care. We strive to create a safe environment where the honesty is honoured by all.
The great laws of Nature are held within Truth. It is the way it is and there is nothing that can change it. The Turtle carries this teaching, as the 13 moons of the year are on her back. There is no year where there are 14 moons or 12 moons. This is a truth. This ancient Grandmother shows us how Creator made things. Truth is demonstrated by showing the youth the laws of nature and consequences in a gentle way. There are teaching moments within every consequence. Helping them to understand tenets of child development, such as all children blame themselves for things that happen around them as a child and that is not their fault, is an example of where truth can be demonstrated. As youth begin to open up and share their truth, staff should show the youth different perspectives. This allows the youth the opportunity to shape a new truth and new way of seeing the world.
The teaching of Humility is that we are neither above nor below anyone or anything else. All of creation is equal and we stand alongside all of creation, part of them, and they part of us. The Wolf carries this teaching as the Grandfather who leads from behind and who stands alongside man as his best friend in creation. Humility will be demonstrated by ensuring the youth are valued and respected and that they begin to learn that their voices count. The relationships between youth also need guidance so that they develop healthy self-esteem and there is no bullying. Staff will work to build confidence within youth as we work with them so that they can recognize their own strengths and gifts in a humble way.
Wisdom is the culmination of spiritual, physical, mental and emotional knowing. It is the discernment and concentration of all ways of knowing to provide what is needed. The Beaver gifts this teaching with us, as she does what is needed for her own survival by gnawing trees (otherwise her teeth continue to grow and she will die), and out of this act she builds her lodge which in turn brings life to all around her. Wisdom is demonstrated by providing the youth guidance and time to develop self-awareness. We believe that the youth can teach us just as much as we can teach them. Staff will provide youth the opportunity to use their voice and share their own knowledge and wisdom when appropriate.
Courage is the ability to face your fears, regardless of the potential outcome. It is facing our greatest enemy, ourselves, and seeing what is needed, rather than what is wanted and allowing those things to come to us, even if it is difficult. The Bear holds the teaching of Courage, mother bears facing down every danger to their cubs, regardless of their own safety. They know the cubs are the future and they will go to great lengths to stand and protect the next generation. Courage is demonstrated by maintaining an honest appraisal of our teachings, guiding the youth to admit to the things that we are in control of that may be harmful to your well being and having the courage to make change. Staff will create a brave space so that youth can have difficult conversations and begin to explore their story. We want to encourage youth to begin healing in a brave, courageous way.