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Coffee with Warren: Stoney Nakoda core values

These values reflect the Creator-centred lifestyle so important to the Stoney Nakoda community.
Twelve values fundamental to the Stoney Nakoda culture are featured on this set of posters by Trent Fox. Inset photo of Trent Fox by Warren Harbeck.

In the life-affirming spirit of this week’s Cochrane Indigenous Arts and Culture Week, I must celebrate once more the wisdom of the late Trent Fox, of Morley, on the Stoney Nakoda values that guide us along life’s often dark and confusing way.

Trent, Stoney Nakoda language-and-culture knowledge keeper, and columnist with the Cochrane Eagle, was within days of completing his PhD at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education when he passed away of a heart attack last June. Several years ago, drawing on the work of his late sister Kimberly Fox, he created a set of three posters featuring 12 core values of his people.

Not only a gifted writer, Trent was not a bad photographer, too, as evidenced by his photos on the posters. Each image is of his traditional land, with the central image of the tepee encampment taken at Stoney Park, just off Hwy 1A west of Morley.

These values reflect the Creator-centred lifestyle so important to the Stoney Nakoda community.

For example, in the Îethkahâ wahogû-wîchakiyabi, “Stoney Nakoda sacred teachings,” Mâkoche ne ahopabi, “respecting Mother Earth,” is a reminder to all of us. And since people are part of that creation, naturally we must practice Wa’ahogipabi, “respect” for each other, too, by Oyade gichiyabi, “living in harmony.” Nor must we forget ourselves, for no matter how troubling the journey, we must remember Orhnîrhpa îchiyabisî, not to let ourselves get discouraged.

There’s one value, of course, that underlies all the others: Wakâ ne wachî yabi, “relying on the Creator.”

All this, Trent stressed, leads to the key respect-based relational value of Wazin îchinabi – “Oneness.” And yes, it was Trent who proposed that as the name for the Wazin Îchinabi Ti, “House of Oneness,” organizer of this week’s Indigenous Arts and Culture event.

About appreciating these values himself, he said: “Mom [Elder Tina Poucette Fox] had been advising us, her children, to start learning from the Elders. She saw how Western paradigms had affected us. It was only by turning to Elders that I began stepping into the Îethka worldview.”

And that worldview is vividly reflected in Trent’s values posters. Thank you, Trent, for this inspiring legacy.


© 2024 Warren Harbeck

[email protected]

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