This was the last of four incredible conversations in a series titled The Wisdom of Elders. Elder Nii speaks his message with a simplicity that cuts through the rationalizations and justifications we all sometimes hold on to, and he does it with kindness and sincerity. I encourage you to check out the work he’s doing in Canada and globally, and listen in as we discuss the challenges all of us face, the needs of the earth beneath our feet, and role of initiation, elders, women, and men in the days to come.

Elder Dr. Dave Courchene — Nii Gaani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man) — is a respected elder and knowledge keeper of the Anishinaabe Nation who has devoted his life to sharing Indigenous knowledge, carrying a message of hope, peace, and environmental stewardship. From lighting the sacred fire at the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992, to sharing the stage with spiritual leaders including the Dalai Lama, Elder Dr. Courchene’s leadership has had a global influence.

In 2002, he founded the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness, a sacred lodge recognized internationally and by the Assembly of First Nations and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as one of the most important gathering places for Indigenous peoples in Canada. Individuals from around the world gather at the Turtle Lodge to facilitate intergenerational knowledge sharing, language revitalization, youth leadership training, and environmental solutions to climate change.


Courchene has built alliances with institutions, academics, and policymakers across the Canada. His work has been recognized with many prestigious honours, including the INDSPIRE National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality; an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Winnipeg, the Volunteer Manitoba Award for Outstanding Community Leadership; the International Award of Excellence; the Aboriginal Circle of Educators Award; and the International Indigenous Leadership Award. He is a deeply respected elder, known for his ability to inspire dialogue and cross-cultural understanding between Indigenous knowledge keepers and western-trained scientists. His leadership is rooted in generosity, kindness, and a desire for peace and sustainability.

Connect with Elder Nii





-The 7 Sacred Laws of the Anishinaabe People:

See for privacy information.