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Four Feathers Writing Guide

Learn more about traditional Coast Salish teachings and approaches to learning that can support your development as an academic writer.


The Four Feathers Writing Guide respectfully presents traditional Coast Salish teachings and approaches to learning to support Indigenous students develop as academic writers. While Coast Salish teachings may not be transferrable across all Indigenous communities, we hope those presented in this guide will create a pathway to learning about academic writing.

The Traditional Knowledge presented in this guide remains the intellectual property of the Indigenous Knowledge Keepers who generously shared their knowledge. The ownership of Traditional Knowledge remains in perpetuity with the appropriate Nation, and we obtained the necessary permissions to include the teachings in this guide. The Traditional Knowledge should therefore not be re-used in any way without obtaining explicit permission from the Nation.

We are grateful to the Heron People (Elders/Old Ones3) at Royal Roads University for their support of this guide as well as their recommendations and assistance in ensuring we respected local First Nations’ protocols and traditions.

We approached this project with good hearts, and we are grateful for the advice, support, information, and collaboration we received from everyone who contributed to its creation.

Dr. Elder THE-LA-ME-YÉ Shirley Rose Alphonse

THE-LA-ME-YÉ Shirley Alphonse, who is from Hul’q’umi’num People of Cowichan Nation, is a spiritual leader of the T’Sou-ke Nation on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She has devoted her life to reconnecting people with the Creator.

Elder TEȺȽIE D. Nadine Charles

ÍY SCAĆEL (Good day). My given traditional name is TEȺȽIE (pronounced Tuhaythlia). My English name is D. Nadine Charles. Our names do not have meaning, they are passed down from generation to generation and given to us to show which families we belong to and connections we have to another nation. My name is from the Tsartlip Nation, Brentwood Bay, I am from the SC’IÁNEW̱ Nation in Sooke. My passion is to teach our way of life, past and present, to help people to understand who we are and let go of the stereotyping. Make people aware of our culture and tradition and way of life based on fact, through life experience and teachings passed down from my Elders. Life is a learning experience right from birth, we never stop learning. Even as an Elder I am still learning. It never stops, knowledge is rewarding. I am grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of the Four Feathers Writing Guide HÍŚKWE (Thank you).

Theresa Bell

Theresa Bell, who is a fourth-generation Canadian of English, Irish, and Swedish descent, is the Manager, Blended Learning Success, at Royal Roads University. As a non-Indigenous person, Theresa collaborated with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to bring together Traditional Knowledge, teachings, and resources to assist First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students with their academic writing.

3 Elders and Old Ones are terminology based on individual preference and throughout this document they are used interchangeably.