Jason Chamakese playing his flute for E.S. Laird students, Photo: 106.1 The Goat/Brendan Collinge
Lloydminster Public School Division is recognizing the history of indigenous stories with Aboriginal Storytelling Month. Traditionally, aboriginal peoples see winter as a season for storytelling. Aboriginal Storytelling Month makes February an opportunity for LPSD students to celebrate and learn more about aboriginal culture.
Throughout the month a number of events are being held to recognize the month. Jason Chamakese, an indigenous flute player from Pelican Lake, was at schools from February 6-8 sharing some traditional knowledge through stories. He believes the stories that he tells have lessons that everyone can benefit from.
“Stories are a good way to pass down lessons and teachings. That’s how I learned, and these lessons and teachings aren’t exclusive to First Nations people. I think everybody can benefit from some of the stuff I share in my presentations,” says Chamakese.
On February 7, Chamakese shared with E.S. Laird students a story about Wesakechak, a figure in Cree stories often seen as a trickster. The story showed how Wesakechak helped prepare the world for people and how he learned not to pass preconceived judgments. Chamakese related this lesson to his own experiences as an indigenous man when he was recovering from a stroke.
“I’d hope that they took home the lesson of open-mindedness and acceptance. Lots of people say tolerance is what they’re going for. Tolerance is fine but, it’s almost like having to put up with something. I would take acceptance over tolerance any day. That’s why I do what I do; I want to help people, especially young people, see things differently.”
Cheryl Thomas is an Aboriginal Coordinator with LPSD, and agrees that storytelling is a wholly good thing. She works in LPSD to share indigenous literature, her language, culture and unique experience as an aboriginal woman. On top of helping preserve indigenous languages, Thomas believes that Aboriginal Storytelling Month teaches the history of aboriginal culture.
“Together we’re trying to make this environment and awareness of the First Nations diversity and rich history through knowledge sharing and storytelling. We want to inspire youth to seek their own roots. Whether it’s through listening to a creation story and the values, art, kinship, community teachings, music. We want the students to learn by the listening and observing,” says Thomas.
This month will also feature students in the LCHS Soar Mentorship Program coming and speaking for classes. Cheryl Thomas will also be available for speaking opportunities about aboriginal culture.