Our approach to learning and education is founded on stories from our culture and communities.
The Story of a New Beginning
Long ago, the world was nothing but water. There were only birds and animal swimmers. One day, a woman fell from the sky and landed on a giant turtle. The woman had nowhere to go, and so she had to stay on the turtle. She asked the animals if they could dive down to the bottom of the water and get a piece of the earth for her. She said she would take the piece of earth and create land on which everyone could live.
The loon was the first to try. The loon was under the water for a long time. When the loon returned to the surface, he had nothing.
Next, the beaver tried, but he also returned with nothing.
Then the muskrat wanted to try. All of the other animals laughed at him because of his small size. They believed he would also fail. The woman, however, said he could try.
The muskrat dove straight down into the water. He stayed under the water longer than any of the other animals. Because he dove so deep, the water became dark that he did not know which way was up. Above the water, the other animals waited.
Finally, the muskrat slowly surfaced, barely alive. In his little paw he held some earth. The woman took the earth from his paw and placed it on the turtle’s back. This is how the land was created.
The Story of Chanie Wenjack
Chanie Wenjack, misnamed Charlie Wenjack by his teachers, was an Anishinaabe boy, born in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls Reserve on January 19, 1954.
In 1963, at the age of nine, Chanie was sent to the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential school in Kenora, Ontario. In 1966, 12-year old Chanie ran away from Cecilia Jeffrey.
He was trying to go home. Home was 600 kilometers away in Ogoki Post. Nine others ran away that same day, but all were caught within 24 hours.
Sadly, Chanie did not make it. His body was found beside the railway tracks on October 22, 1966, a week after he ran away from residential school. He succumbed to starvation and exposure. All he had in his pocket was a little glass jar that held seven wooden matches. Chanie’s story, like many stories of Indigenous children, tell us of Canada’s legacy of colonization of Indigenous Peoples.
Oshki-Pimache-O-Win means “a new beginning.” The Oshki-Wenjack logo symbolizes the beginning of a new life for those who pursue an education to improve their lives.
The turtle and the tree represent the story of how land was created. The tree in the turtle represents the beauty and life that the land has given us. The turtle represents the potential of an individual to take something simple, like a little clump of dirt, and turn it into something beautiful and wonderful.
In 2018, Oshki incorporated the Chanie Wenjack story into the name of the institute and into the logo; Oshki-Pimache-O-Win: The Wenjack Education Institute (Oshki-Wenjack).
The image of the person walking represents Chanie who further represents learners walking the Red Path. The railway tracks represent the Red Path. Walking the Red Path means having that connection to all that surrounds us. It means respecting all others, Mother Earth and Father Sky. It means finding our own balance spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Oshki-Wenjack recognizes the importance of maintaining that strong connection to what keeps us connected and balanced; family, land, teachings, and traditional ways.
The Oshki-Pimache-O-Win logo was designed by Alvin R.S. Fiddler of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.