Aboriginal Storytelling Month marks 20 years of sharing

“Our cultural ceremony, history and language are all talked about in traditional stories. As long as we continue to share them, they stay alive.”

Albert and her kohkum Mary Lee will share their stories online as part of the month-long event. (Photo provided)

Storytelling was always a part of Jasmyn Albert’s life. When her kohkom shared stories she soaked it all in. It’s what made her want to become a teacher and storyteller.

“I was taught that as long as we’re sharing our stories, they stay alive,” Albert says. “When I’m in front of Indigenous students, I can feel the connection they are making to it, it lights up their spirit.”

Wintertime is a sacred time for Indigenous communities where knowledge and lived experience has always been shared through oral tradition. When Aboriginal Storytelling Month was created in 2004 by the Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples (LSSAP), there was a simple goal; to create a space where Indigenous people were welcomed and their stories celebrated. Now, two decades later, it’s still helping schools, local libraries and cultural organizations share knowledge and protect Indigenous culture. The milestone 20th anniversary kicks off February 1, 2023 in LaRonge with a celebration of all the event has accomplished.

“We started small,” says organizer Jessica Generoux. “The first year was only a week-long project with about 200 people attending. The month of February is now proclaimed by the government as Aboriginal Storytelling Month and we fill it with events reaching across the province and nearly 30,000 people attending.”

Tonia Laird will share how her culture informs her illustrations and video game work. (Tonia Laird)

This year’s celebration will feature a mix of online and in-person events. 65 storytellers will share children’s’ stories, traditional teachings, poetry, music and ceremony but, it doesn’t stop there. Personal stories will be shared by podcasters, video game creators, playwrights, artists and comedians.

“It’s a connection to our past as individuals. It tells us about who we are and where we come from.”

Curtis Peeteetuce will be sharing his own storytelling secrets at workshops throughout the province. (Photo Provided)

Playwright, artist and teacher Curtis Peeteetuce has been part of it all for the past 16 years. He says sharing stories in communities across the province gives him confidence as a performer and reinforces his own identity as an Indigenous person.

“It’s a connection to our past as individuals. It tells us about who we are and where we come from. It gives meaning and strength to us.” Peeteetuce explains, “When you hear stories of hardship and you are going through your own struggles, these stories of victory, success, love and power can inspire and give us all hope.”

Albert says Aboriginal Storytelling Month is also a chance to build bridges.

“It’s a chance to share the beauty of our stories with non-Indigenous people as well,” she says. “To break the stereotypes and cultural biases that many have is important. I get to enlighten people and share a piece of who I am.”

With most libraries across Saskatchewan taking part in the event, there is truly something for everyone.

For more information and a full schedule of events follow this link.