Friday Essay – We Are Our Stories

We are our stories.  I am at a summit regarding identifying best practices in Aboriginal education.  So far, I have learned a little bit about best, or wise, practices in Aboriginal education.  Which feel a lot like wise practices in education generally with some specific tools for working with Aboriginal students.  What I am really taking away from this summit is the idea that we are our stories – individually and collectively.  The attendees at the summit were graced with the artistry of five traditional dancers and their accompanying singers and drummers. The embedded video (which is a little long, nearly 40 minutes) is a recording of the display I witnessed.  The young man who spoke for the group, Theodore (Crazy Horse) Bison, told his story of discovering why he dances and why his people dance.  To heal – to heal their spirits, their bodies, the land. Which was very powerful to me as a dancer who has found my style of dance very powerful and healing. Another speaker – Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Affairs) at Lakehead University – talked about her work with the Canadian Roots organization.  Young people of all backgrounds – Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, new Canadians – spend a week or more in a First Nation community learning about the community, about the people and about themselves.  One of the most powerful things the youth learn is to tell their stories.  It is a powerful thing to know your story – Who are you?  Why are you the person you are? What have your ancestors given you?  Sometimes the work of finding one’s story and identity is painful.  I know that digging into that pain, shining a light in the dark places, dissipates the shadows and makes the pain easier to look at.  I believe that when we tell our stories – to ourselves and others – we become more.  We become more fully ourselves.  Through the process of discovering the hurt one can also find strength.  Telling our stories connects us to others – others who know our pain, others who want to lift us up.  Telling our stories is what makes us human.  We are our stories.

Be Lovely to Each Other,

Laura

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