Elders are very important members of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities. The term Elder refers to someone who has attained a high degree of understanding of First Nation, Métis, or Inuit history, traditional teachings, ceremonies, and healing practices. Elders have earned the right to pass this knowledge on to others and to give advice and guidance on personal issues, as well as on issues affecting their communities and nations. First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples value their Elders and all older people, and address them with the utmost respect.

Whenever traditional feasts are held in First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities, the Elders and older people are often asked to offer prayers to bless the events or to do the opening or closing ceremonies. They are also served first and they never have to wait in line or are left standing if chairs are unavailable.

If you are considering visiting a First Nation, Métis, or Inuit community or organizing an event with an Indigenous focus, you should consult an Elder for his or her perspective. A certain protocol should be followed when requesting an Elder’s assistance. This protocol may vary from the following guidelines, which would be used for a First Nations Elder. If the Elder is Inuit or Métis, tobacco may not be offered when requesting assistance. Check first with a leader of the Elder’s community to determine the proper protocol.

(UOT, Dr. Nicole Bell)

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