Values guide Stoney life

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, January 30, 2020

Twelve values fundamental to the Stoney Nakoda culture are featured on this set of posters just published by Trent Fox.

Positive values are lights that guide us along life’s often dark and confusing way. Certainly that has been the case within the Stoney Nakoda First Nations culture in the Alberta foothills communities of Morley, Eden Valley and Big Horn, and helps explain how they have come through so valiantly in a post–Treaty 7 colonized world.

Stoney Nakoda language-and-life scholar Trent Fox, of Morley, has featured 12 core values in his just-published set of three posters. Trent, only a few months away from completing his PhD at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education (google Werklund’s article about him, “Preserving a Language, Preserving a Culture”), has dedicated the posters to the memory of his late sister Kimberly Fox, whose list of values provides the text for the posters.

Trent, a gifted writer (for example, his occasional columns in the Cochrane Eagle), turns out to be 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.

With Trent’s permission, I shared the accompanying photo of the posters with Linda Kavelin-Popov, internationally acclaimed co-founder of The Virtues Project. She responded immediately with how impressed she was at how “the Stoney Nakoda values in these inspiring posters reflect virtues that honour the Creator and the true spirit of the people.”

Yes, I thought to myself, the true spirit not only of the Stoney Nakoda people, but of all humanity.

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.

But one value underlies all the others: Wakâ ne wachî yabi, “relying on the Creator.” As Linda Kavelin-Popov rightly says, “these inspiring posters reflect virtues that honour the Creator.”

For copies of posters, contact Trent,


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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