Storytelling is a common activity during camping, but it’s integral to Aboriginal cultures. It helps to link the past with the present and future.
Humber College students saw it up close on Nov. 5 at the First Nation Traditional Storytelling Event, part of Aboriginal Awareness Week at L Space Gallery, Lakeshore campus.
The host, Nigel BSU, short for Bornstandingup, is part of the Cold Lake First Nations in Alberta. He has told stories all his life and believes storytelling is important.
“It’s relating to history, teaching lessons and having fun,” BSU said.
BSU and Natalie Snow, a fourth-year criminal justice student at Humber and the co-president of the Lakeshore campus’s Aboriginal Student Circle (ASC) were two of the seven people attending the event
“I learned a lot about the negatives but not so much on the positive,” said Snow, who is Métis. “The theology behind it makes more sense to me than anything else.”
BSU said many stories, even horror, were to keep children safe.
“There’s a story about a woman in a lake that sucks people’s blood, these are the kind of stories that are told where I was from,” said BSU. “There’s a story about a log and a fish. The log was on the ground while the fish hit the net. To get out of the net it pushed the log which created the totem pole.”
BSU said no specific skills are needed to tell stories but a raconteur develops their style over time.
“A group of people in Alberta will tell a story differently from people in British Columbia or Saskatchewan,” said BSU. “They all have their own version, but if the story is good it could spread.”
According to BSU, storytelling is a way for people to deal with their problems and it takes personality to be able to create a really good story.
“It’s harder for the young to get engaged but they are absolutely still involved in storytelling to this day.”
Allysha Wassegijig, the coordinator for the North campus’ Aboriginal Resource Centre (ARC) said this is the first time Aboriginal Awareness Week has happened with ASC and the ARC working together.
“It’s absolutely great. I think the Aboriginal Awareness Week is a huge step forward for the Aboriginal Student Circle. It warms my heart to see it grow how it has.”
Wassegijig said these events are a good way for non-natives to experience native culture.
“I would say that it is a great chance to learn something new and not be afraid to experience something new. At Humber, we’re so lucky to have such a diverse community and to have such a positive space to be who you are and to celebrate that for all cultures and however you identify yourself.