Elders are very important to Indigenous communities as they are central to keeping traditional wisdom and cultural knowledge alive and passing it forward. Their “credentials” are not determined by a university or other institution, but by their people and other knowledge holders, based on their lived experiences and their recognition as keepers of knowledge.
Elders are closely connected to land, language, and culture. Their insights and guidance shape the mission and programming of Indigenous units and departments, and institutions as a whole. Their involvement – and often, simply their presence – supports students, staff, and faculty, both in terms of the relationships they uphold and as role models of their cultural and emotional support and physical presence.
Ideally, Elders’ guidance touches all levels of the institution from the senior administration to the day-to-day experiences of students.