We are a husband and wife team who work with people to share what we know about teaching and healing.
Unkan Wanbdi Wakita (Grandfather)
In a lifetime that spans seven decades, Unkan Wanbdi Wakita has had a remarkable range of experiences. From travel on foot, horse and bicycle on his home reserve of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation during a time when a pass signed by the Indian Agent was required just to leave, to cruising in motor vehicles and airplanes to far off places such as Europe, New Zealand, Hawaii, Africa and Mexico, Unkan has travelled many paths.
Unkan’s early life was infused with love and teachings from his mother and grandfather. He grew up speaking the Dakota language, learning about Ceremony and living the Dakota way of life. As a child he had many Sacred experiences that foretold of the work that would come later when he was an adult. When he would share about these experiences, his grandfather would reassure him, “Takoja, Ija hna wakanpi. They are holy too. Do not be afraid.”
This was in sharp contrast to the harsh treatment and abuse that he experienced for eight years in an Indian residential school. When he was old enough, he ran away and joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a Peacekeeper where he served for six years. Upon his return home, and after years of healing the wounds that those experiences caused, Unkan surrendered into the role that was always waiting for him, that of a Wicasa Wakan or Holy Man.
For over thirty years, Unkan conducted Ceremonies and provided counseling support to incarcerated men. His reputation for integrity allowed him to intervene during critical incidents and prevent loss of life. Unkan has acted in the role of advisor to the Federal Aboriginal Justice Directorate, the Correctional Service of Canada – Gangs and Conflict Resolution Initiative, the Law Society of Canada to make revisions to the Young Offenders Act in 1999, and the Government of the Northwest Territories to build new young offender and adult correctional facilities.
Unkan Wanbdi Wakita has received many honours over the years. He has been recognized for his work by the Aboriginal Justice Services of Winnipeg for having demonstrated excellence and dedication to his work in corrections. He also received the Manitoba Premier’s Award of Excellence for his work with the Paraplegic Society and an “Honouring Our Elders Award” from the Aboriginal Circle of Educators. In July 2016, he was invested into the Order of Manitoba for his lifelong efforts to support individual healing and unity between all nations.
Unkan has attended sundances, both in the United States and Canada, for over fifty years. He is a sundance chief and spiritual leader and a strong voice to preserve Dakota language and culture. Wanbdi is described as, “gentle and soft spoken, a man of profound wisdom.” He possesses a rare breadth of traditional and culture knowledge, which he combines with a message of love.
These days he is the Grandfather in Residence to the University of Manitoba Access Program. He continues to contribute to the community by sharing knowledge, advice and wisdom whenever he is asked.
You can read stories about Wanbdi’s life at IMarriedaHolyMan.com
Unkan Wanbdi Wakita provides support to the following organizations.
Survivors Circle – National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation
Grandparents Council – Manitoba Aboriginal Languages Strategy
Master of Social Work – Indigenous Knowledge, University of Manitoba
Grandparents Council – Louis Riel School Division
Advisory Committee – Traditional Healer Program, MKO
Elders Council – Sacred Fire Foundation
Indigenous Advisory Committee – Canadian Mental Health Association
President- Indigenous Veterans and Serving Members of Manitoba
Kunsi Pahan Pte San Win (Grandmother)
Pahan Pte San Win is Lakota, Cree & Metis, with family roots that reach back to Wood Mountain in southern Saskatchewan. Her name means Grey Swan Buffalo Woman.
With formal training from the University of Calgary, Pahan has worked as a counseling therapist with hundreds who came seeking relief from pain and suffering. She is particularly proud of her work with Indian Residential School Survivors.
In her words, “I stand in witness to the resiliency of the human spirit and our immense capacity to heal. The spiritual growth that came to me through years spent in prayer and ceremony has allowed me the insight to understand the lessons life was teaching me.”
In 2016, Pahan was presented with the 10th Annual Aboriginal Circle of Educators Award in the category of Honouring Our Elders, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Pahan is an accomplished storyteller sharing remarkable accounts on her blog, “IMarriedaHolyMan”. Pahan is a published author most recently contributing to the anthology “Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters”, by editors Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell and Christi Belcourt (2018).
Perhaps most importantly, to incarcerated youth at the Manitoba Youth Centre, Pahan is Kunsi or Grandmother, an Indigenous Spiritual Caregiver and to the Sundance of Women, Pahan is the Sundance Chief. Pahan’s vision to have a Sundance that honours our stolen sisters was realized in 2017 and continues until 2020.