Visiting Elders Program

The Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education (CACE) is pleased to continue a tradition of providing opportunities for Elders to connect with students and staff.  CACE recognizes the significant need for linkages between traditional and Western knowledge, as well as the importance of passing such knowledge on to those who will keep those teachings for future generations.  Further, the Visiting Elders Program provides a culturally safe and relevant space for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students, faculty, staff and community members to obtain assistance and cultural enrichment.

Elder Paul Skanks (see bio below) will provide smudging and teaching circles on a variety of topics every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (September 2016 to March 2017) in Ojigkwanong, the Aboriginal centre (228 Paterson Hall).  It’s a drop in; everyone is welcome, whether you have 10 minutes or you can stay for an hour or the whole time. Those interested in more personal conversations can approach Paul in accordance with the Guidelines for Working with Elders.

For questions about the Visiting Elders Program, contact CACE.


For nearly twenty years First Nation, Métis and Inuit Elders have played a critical role in the success, retention and inspiration of Carleton students, faculty and staff.  Over the years, Carleton University has invited Elders to campus to share their incredible wisdom and traditional knowledge. Elders from numerous Aboriginal nations have come to Carleton as special guests and even “Elders-In-Residence” to assist students in their academic endeavors, and to foster an environment of understanding amongst non-Aboriginal students and faculty.  Click here for a a short history of Elders’ and other influential Aboriginal peoples’ visits to Carleton.

In the 2010/11 academic year, CACE was proud to coordinate the Visiting Elders Program which welcomed Elders Paul Skanks and Thomas Louttit.  Last year, both Elders came to campus nearly two dozen times to share in their traditional knowledge, and to assist students in their unique and challenging academic endeavors.  In 2011/12, CACE is excited to continue to share in the cultural enrichment and support provided through the Visiting Elders Program.


Paul Skanks

Mohawk Traditional Teacher

Mohawk Nation

Paul was raised in Kahnawake, Quebec, a Mohawk Nation in Quebec. His spirit name is Tiao Re Hen Sere, “The First Light of Day” and he is of the Turtle Clan. Since retirement, Paul has embarked on a journey of cultural rebirth. He has engaged in an active pursuit of knowledge based on teachings shared by Elders and Traditional Teachers from various First Nations on Turtle Island. Paul works with Aboriginal communities toward the improvement of education, women’s safety and personal wellness.

Thomas Louttit was born on September 4, 1948 in Coral Rapids, Ontario where his father was stationed with Ontario Northland Railroad. He is second oldest of nine children. Thomas spent his early years being cared for in Moose Factory by his parents and his maternal grandfather. At five years old he was sent to Fort Albany Indian Residential School in Ontario and at nine to Fort George, Quebec. In the 1965 Thomas was placed in the care of Children’s Aid Society. For next three years he lived in many different foster homes throughout southern and northern Ontario. Thomas moved to Toronto where he became a Flat Roofer, a career that would last 32 years. In the early 1980s he began to construct a life free of alcohol, abuse and other destructive patterns that he addressed through traditional ceremonies. He has spent many years pursuing his own healing from physical and sexual abuse. In 1994 he graduated from the three-year Ontario Native Education Program.

Thomas describes himself as an Oskabay-wis, “a helper to the people“. He spent thousands of hours assisting Elder Jim Dumont, Elder Roger Jones, and Hectory Copegog; Enaathig Healing; and Onkwatenro`shon:` a Health Planners Lodge (Dr. Ed Connors); and various others as a traditional fire keeper for Sacred Sweat Lodge and most recently conducting Sweat Lodge. For the past twenty years he has been facilitating Traditional Healing Circles, mostly for men’s groups. Thomas is highly sought after by schools and community groups to speak on the Indian Residential School experience and to share his personal healing journey. Presently, Thomas provides elders services for the Assembly of First Nations, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, and the Government of Canada, to name a few. His volunteer work includes being a founding member of the Barrie Native Friendship Centre.

Thomas is the father of Erica and Thomas Wilson (deceased), and grandfather of sixteen. He currently lives in Ottawa with his wife, Pennie.