The University of Winnipeg



Axworthy Honoured At Sacred Pipe Ceremony

WINNIPEG, MB– Elder Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinewand Dr. Phil Fontaine honoured UWinnipeg’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy – Waapshki Pinaysee Inini White Thunderbird Man, at a sacred Pipe Ceremony last evening. Axworthy was recognized for his commitment to creating an inclusive learning experience that reflects Indigenous cultures and traditions at UWinnipeg. The ceremony was led by Anishinaabe Elder Fred Kelly and Wabanakwut Kinew.

“We honour the legacy for the future Dr. Axworthy has built to ensure Indigenous students will seek their education, where Indigenous science and western knowledge meet and are respected, where Indigenous concepts in our own languages expand western knowledge in physics, psychology, and so many other spheres of the whole that is life as we know it,” said Elder Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew.

“For years, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy has been pushing The University of Winnipeg forward into an era where Indigenous people are not just included, but celebrated,” said Wabanakwut Kinew.“This pipe ceremony shows he’s not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk when it comes to respecting Indigenous knowledge and traditions.”

“I am humbled by this generous and sacred honour which reflects our bond and mutual respect,” expressed Axworthy. “This inclusion reflects our mutual commitment in creating strong partnerships with First Nations peoples. It is imperative to include Indigenous voices and perspectives as we move forward as a nation to create a more inclusive and respectful Canada.”


The pipe is a sacred way to connect to the Creator and to the physical and spiritual worlds. The pipe holder asks the Spirits to come and join in the smoking of the pipe.

Participants sit in a circle with the pipe carrier. The helper places the sacred tobacco into the pipe and lights it in front of the pipe carrier. The pipe carrier, who is the host of the ceremony, will be praying to six directions: east, south, west, north, the earth (Mother earth) and the sky (spirit world).

The pipe is then passed to the participants, who may either touch it or smoke. The tobacco is allowed to go out; the pipe is disassembled to be returned to the bundle. After this, the pipe carrier may speak a few words of gratitude about life and expectations. Participants are invited to speak and then the ceremony is considered closed. Berries are traditionally shared, as is something sweet. A feast follows, along with an exchange of gifts.

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