The name pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ, meaning land of the thunderbirds, was informed through ceremony and given to this ward. From an aerial view the ward is shaped like a pihêsiw (thunderbird).
The thunderbird appears in artwork throughout Indigenous history all across the country, and has different cultural significance between cultures.
In nêhiyawewin (Cree ontology), pihêsiw is a word of power and reverence. The Cree believe in wahkohtowin, which is a sacred relationship or kinship with all of creation. This includes the beasts of air, land, sky, the sustenance provided by the land, and the water. Each of these are viewed as gifts from the Creator, and each acts as a lesson in coexistence, peace and harmony. The pihêsiw is the keeper of water. As water is crucial for life, the nourishment of our bodies and the bringer of beauty, the thunderbird is viewed with extreme reverence.
The thunderbird is a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. By its work, the earth was watered and vegetation grew. Lightning was believed to flash from its beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent the rolling of thunder. The pihêsiw, thunderbird, is linked to nature’s processes. When the thunderbird strikes lightning (kakitoht), mother Earth is re-energized.
Acknowledgement from iyiniw iskwewak wihtwawin (Indigenous women’s movement/action):
Our greatest acknowledgements go to our givers of life beginning with the mamawotawimaw (Great Spirit), all acahkwak (spirits) created to assist our meskanaw (directions), ohnikikomawak (parents), kitaskinaw (community), askikanihk (nations), ohkawimaw askiy (earth) and the okisikonahk (universe).
Thank you to Bernie Makokis, Elder from Saddle Lake Cree Nation and Roy Bison, Elder from Oceanman First Nation.