Hubert Skye is vital.
A born teacher, Mr. Skye, embodies Indigenous knowledge and through his integrity demonstrates that ability every day. His prosperous wisdom of the Cayuga and Onondaga language, its traditions and Longhouse religious ways are exceptional but it’s his capability to teach them is what is extraordinary.
Famously, as a teacher in a Moose Factory residential school he defied regulations and secretly taught some children Cayuga language.
Well schooled in western and traditional teaching methods, he remained in teaching for over 34 years teaching in Six Nations and other First Nation communities across Ontario.
“I wanted to inspire young people,” he says. “It’s hard for parents to teach kids the language if they don’t know it. There are only a few of us left who can speak.” Elder Skye believes it was at such a crucial point that he started immersion schools in Six Nations, and night schools and workshops teaching language, and the ways of the Longhouse.
It was a natural step for him to enter the Longhouse as a Faithkeeper. Raised traditionally in the Longhouse he conducts ceremonies and speeches throughout the year for the 17 ceremonies held for the seasons and 24 kinds of healing ceremonies. Multi-lingual in the Iroquoian languages, Elder Skye actively assists many cultural and educational organizations. Hubert is a recognized solemnizer of marriages for the longhouse faith and has performed over 400 traditional marriages to date.
“I’m always willing to help. I keep busy but I have cut down on the number of engagements I do. Now I only do 12 or so a week,” he says, cutting down from 20 a week.
Everyone knows Elder Skye is too an avid sports fan first as a player and now as an organizer, administrator and supporter. He received the Tom Longboat award for his involvement in sports like lacrosse, hockey, bowling and golf. He saw the need for the Six Nations Arena and helped make it happen.
“It’s a way to get the kids interested and healthy. It keeps them healthy too with our problems with obesity and diabetes. It’s important,” he says. He has been married to his wife Bertha for 50 years, has five children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Whether it’s teaching young people the languages and organizing sports events or training young men in the Longhouse Faithkeeper traditions, Elder Skye remains dedicated because it’s a matter of cultural survival.
“It’s a slow process to keep it going and we have a long way to go but we have dedicated young people and I feel confident. I’m always willing to help. It’s my duty given to me by the Creator,” he says.