‘7 Grandfather Teachings’ guides student learning at Peterborough Native Learning Program
The Seven Grandfather Teachings has been a guide for Indigenous people, communities and organizations for generations. At the Peterborough Native Learning Program (PNLP), it’s the cornerstone of everyday learning.
Jason Gilbert, PNLP’s executive director says that for over 20 years, PNLP has been reconnecting learners with their Indigenous culture and traditions.
“Whether you’re Indigenous or not, some of the most powerful teachings we can learn in our lives are rooted in Indigenous traditions,” he says. “The thing that binds us all together include the Seven Grandfather Teachings that both honour and guide Anishinaabe life—Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth.”
These core values are necessary, he adds, to our wellbeing, how we conduct ourselves in our relationships and exist in harmony and peace with the world.
PNLP also incorporates culturally-appropriate lessons and the Medicine Wheel, which reminds us that we need to balance the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical parts of our lives for true wellbeing.
Gilbert says these teachings fit well into how we support learners in overcoming challenges and barriers.
PNLP is an adult learning agency that helps individuals over the age of 19 reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for Indigenous, non-Indigenous and New Canadians wanting to upgrade their skills to benefit them in life, a career, training or education.
Learners attend PNLP for many reasons. Some people want to complete their Grade 12 or their GED (a credential that says that you have grade 12 level knowledge even without a diploma), or they have their sights set on attending college or university.
Learners can take courses at their own pace, including GED test preparation. People also work on developing their employment readiness – skills that will prepare them for work. Apprenticeship preparation and digital skills training and support is also available.
All courses at PNLP are taught by instructors who start by helping each learner set individual goals. Instructors then provide whatever training and support is needed by each person. It is really customized training.
PNLP also supports people in overcoming barriers so that they can reach the goals they set. “We’ve had students who struggle with poverty, live with emotional or physical trauma, mental health challenges or are in drug addiction recovery or suffer from addictions. Showing them that there’s love and respect at PNLP is very important to us. We support people going through personal challenges through the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth can definitely provide a clear path forward.”
“A key focus for us is to get Indigenous learners into a position where they can find work, prepare for learning or gain confidence in their lives.” says Gilbert. “An education leads to healthier and more productive lives.” “We understand the challenges people face; our goal is to support them each step of the way. As they go through our program, we see their confidence build.” says Gilbert. He’s seen firsthand the successes of learners who have worked so hard to accomplish their education and career goals.
He recalls one student who had a difficult time reaching her goal. The student met with a PNLP instructor who worked closely with her to develop a learning plan. Within a short time, she reached her Level 3—the highest skill level at PNLP. She moved on to Fleming Skills on Demand – Work and Academic Upgrading and then she completed a healthcare program.
“For that learner, getting to that point was a huge success, and it was great that PNLP could help get her there,” says Gilbert.
His other favourite story is of a learner who approached PNLP because she wanted to apply to the Fleming College Firefighter program. Her only roadblock, she didn’t have Grade 12 C Math and needed assistance.
“Our instructor worked one-on-one with this student. She applied herself with such dedication and did her math work every single day. What could have taken her two years to complete, she did successfully in six months and got accepted into the Firefighting course at Fleming College. It was an incredibly proud moment for her—and for us!” says Gilbert.
PNLP also works with community partners, including Curve Lake Business Employment Resource Centre to help Curve Lake members develop skills for employment.
Gilbert enjoys connecting with other agencies and welcomes referrals. “We are proud of the work we do and are happy that PNLP is really becoming known throughout Peterborough and County. The increase recognition and referrals confirm that we are really offering something beneficial in the community.”
“We’re getting ourselves out there and letting people know who we are and what we’re doing,” says Gilbert. “There’s more emphasis on preserving Indigenous culture and more focus on the Seven Grandfather Teachings. We also attend events on reserves and in the community. We present at job fairs and host employment readiness workshops to let people know what we do.”
“We have a great relationship with our community partners and work closely with other organizations, making referrals so that each learner is supported in all aspects of their lives.”
Visit the Kawartha Now for an article highlighting the work the Peterborough Native Learning Program does in the community.
Peterborough Native Learning Program is located in Peterborough, Curve Lake and Lakefield.
Discover your strengths and improve your skills by working with the team at https://www.pnlp.org.
For more information, to register or to make a referral, contact Wanda Prince.
You can also visit our programs page: Peterborough Programs.