Ānako: Naming the Indigenous Research Institute

Ānako is a “connection, an extension, a generational continued connection.

Ānako means that we are connecting across generations, including with people from the spirit world who have passed, with people of today, and with the future generations who are not born yet. We are all connected, and we will continue being connected. Ānako is a very short and sweet word that explains this whole process of our connectedness.”

– Elder Joan Commanda Tenasco

This description of the meaning of the Algonquin word Ānako, in the words of Elder Joan Commanda Tenasco from Kitigàn Zìbì Anishinabeg First Nation, captures the spirit and purpose of Carleton’s Indigenous Research Institute.

The Ānako Indigenous Research Institute is a hub or a connecting point at Carleton: a place where people come together and where learning and sharing between all people is supported. Ānako is respectful and inclusive of all First Nations, Métis and Inuit because we research in different places as we move through time. As Anita Tenasco, Director of Education at Kitigàn Zìbì, explained “We believe all of these points can find meaning in Ānako.”

This research institute was named by Elder Joan Commanda Tenasco and Anita Tenasco from Kitigàn Zìbì and by Elder Irvin Sarazin and Della Meness from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. In November 2020, the Carleton team working to launch the Institute was honoured to consult with Knowledge Keepers from Pikwakanagan and Kitigàn Zìbì to determine an appropriate new name for the Institute. Due to COVID restrictions, we had to meet online rather than in-person (and we also had to limit the number of Elders on-site at each venue).

Chi miigwech to Irvin, Della, Joan and Anita for the guidance and knowledge you so generously shared at this consultation and at our subsequent meetings about Ānako.

Ānako Artwork

Photo of Danielle H. Morrison

The stunning Ānako artwork featured on this site was created during the winter of 2021 by Danielle H. Morrison. It was such a privilege to work with Danielle and see her bring this vision of Ānako (as a place for connection, learning, and sharing of knowledge) into being!

A proud member of the Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing, Danielle is a multi-talented artist, designer, lawyer, community advocate and mother. She also recently founded Clan Mother Goods & Apparel. To see more of Danielle’s beautiful design work and photography, please take a look at her website!

Rooted in connectedness

Artist’s Statement

The artwork for Ānako Indigenous Research Institute is rooted in the concept of connectedness and knowledge being passed across generations.

The vision that appeared was that of our people gathering in ceremony to learn and teach one another in the lodge. We each hold our own gifts, our own experiences, our own knowledge, our own flame. In being close to one another in this way, we allow those flames to grow and nourish each other.

This exchange grounds us with the natural world around us, like expanding roots. It reminds us of where we come from and where we are going. Of that inner child we must feed with good spirit and intent, of those babies yet to come, of those in womb whom soak up our love and welcoming through the vessels of a placenta.

We come from the earth, in the same way that we go back to the earth. When we learn, we return to that place where there is nothing between us and the land. Our feet planted firmly on the ground, we sit and feel our Mother and her gifts. We talk to each other in the way that she speaks to us. Our voices intertwine and are felt in the grass and living beings that grow around us.

All of this, while those in the spirit world reach their loving arms, their watchful gaze, around us. From day to night, from the warmth of the sun to the gleam of the stars, we feel their weight. We honour their spirits by speaking to them, by allowing their knowledge to flow freely through space and time unto us.

We are all connected.

All my relations,


(Danielle H. Morrison)