Social workers are responsible for protecting and encouraging Indigenous children. The School of Social Work is committed to preparing people in social work that will understand the impact they will have on Indigenous children and families

Kinistòtàdimin means “We Understand Each Other”

The four pairs of moccasins represent the four generations: baby, youth, adult, and elder. They also symbolize the four directions: North, East, South, and West, and the medicine wheel. The moccasins are placed in a circle, surrounding the misidjipzin to signify the role social workers have in caring for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children.  

Social workers are responsible for protecting and encouraging Indigenous children. The School of Social Work is committed to preparing people in social work that will understand the impact they will have on Indigenous children and families, recognizing and reflecting on past and present traumas.

They will ensure the children feel connected to their culture, specifically that they feel a part of the Anishinaabe Nation.  This artwork and its display signify that Indigenous children will be surrounded by the teachings of the misidjipzin and moccasins. They will have love, security, and direction as they grow and prosper.  


Moccasins signify the importance of treating all life with respect and taking only what you need from the land. When you wear a pair of moccasins, you learn to tread softly on the land, being respectful to it always. These moccasins are made with deer hide leather and beaver fur trim; the beaver represents hard-working Indigenous peoples.

The beadwork on the baby moccasins honours the lost and stolen Indigenous children; those that never made it home and did not get to walk in their moccasins. These children and the history of residential schools will never be forgotten.

The beadwork on the youth moccasins represents the children being guided by the sacred bundle the bear holds. The bear paw represents the Anishinaabe Nation. In the clan system, the bears were the main chief leaders. It has been said that if you see a bear in person or in your dreams, the bear has chosen you for a certain responsibility. 

Yellow moccasins

The flowers represent the children who are like gardens. They need to be guided to grow
beautifully. Kitiganik or Rapid Lake means “the garden.” For generations past, flowers have been
beaded on moccasins.  

The adult male moccasins represent the role of Anishinaabe men. They carry an axe as a symbol
of their obligation to take care of their family and community, ensuring peace for all. The Matriarch
brought life from the spirit to the physical life, providing prosperity and strength to the men. The
natural laws were to wake up with the sun and rest when the sun goes down.  

The elder female moccasins honour the Kokums’ teachings. Grandmothers are responsible for
observing a child’s growth, determining their needs, and ensuring health for all. It has been said that they always have the last say when it comes to the well-being of the people. The beadwork illustrates the relationship grandmothers have with the land and the protection of the waters.

Mocassins with blue symbol


A misidjipzin is a birch bark cradle used by young Indigenous mothers to carry their babies. It is made for them until they are one year old. After a year, they are carried in a tikinagin or cradleboard on their mother’s back. The misidjipzin represents the beginning or an opportunity for a child; a child who feels safe being in connection with his environment. When made from birch bark, the baby’s warmth is felt, and the child feels safe. It re-establishes love; the connection to which the child is entitled to in life, to flourish and take their place in life. It signifies love, discipline, identity, belonging, and connection. It also signifies the connection of the mother, who gave birth to the child and who must be respected as a carrier of life.

Djodjo aki or mother earth provides the resources to build a misidjipzin. Every piece of craftsmanship has an important meaning to the misidjipzin. It takes several days to make one; the materials need to be gathered, patterns cut, and rocks are used to mould the birch bark into shape.

This misidjipzin is made with birch bark, sewn with jack pine roots, and the bear paw is beaded with porcupine quills. The wakobizin is the cloth wrap that goes inside the misidjipzin. There are baby blankets, a matching hat, and a cushion for the baby to lay on too. The wrap is made with deer hide leather and is laced up to secure the baby in place. The wrap that secures the baby in place represents the woman’s womb, a sense of security and the importance of loving all things, seen and unseen. The long ties that tie the baby in place represent an umbilical cord. It is a connection established at birth to mother earth. It means no matter where we are, even if lost, we will always find our way back to her.

Tabaret walk way