Learning Story – Sharing Our Stories

Learning Story – Sharing Our Stories

The Week of Dec 1, 2023

What Happened?

We invited Larry Jones, Kianna’s grandfather, to join us for our morning circle. Larry shared with us that he was very nervous. He showed us a beaded egg his grandmother had beaded and used it as a metaphor for how he was feeling. He spoke of how the yolk was exposed because he is not accustomed to having people ask him to talk about himself. .  

Larry must have spent so much time preparing – he shared about his family and focused on kinship – the importance of sharing where you come from. He brought many pictures of his ancestors, especially his grandmothers, some of which are also ancestors of a couple of the Bushkids. He also shared a few stories about his youth, a very meaningful buffalo hunt and demonstrated how he uses crooked knives and their incredible significance for building almost anything including toys, boats, wooden puppets, airplanes, little toboggans, sleds, canoes, paddles and so on. He would start by making small ones and then full size ones! He told us that he grew up observing the Land keenly, with the ability of knowing where all of his resources are for making anything – for example the right kind of tree or bush, the right size, the right bark. 

After circle, some Bushkids wanted to finger weave, others went back to building the quinzee and others eagerly headed to the kitchen to help make chowder and bannock. The sliding hill, Dene games and making journals were also part of our day. While this was happening, a couple of educators circulated and asked the Bushkids questions about their play to draw out significant moments, interests and curiosities. 

At the closing circle, Rachel shared her storybook A Journey Down the River along with the storysack provided by the NWT Literacy Council. Rachel shared how she never thought she would ever write a book, but this story was created as many students and Elders shared their experiences along the Deh Cho.

Why is it Important?

The Bushkids educators reflected on how uncomfortable it can make someone feel if you ask them to share some stories about themselves. We will definitely approach that differently in the future with guests and we want to thank Larry for letting us know how he felt and for sharing this vulnerability with all of the Bushkids. Culturally, it is a lot to ask of someone and can even be disrespectful. Another good reminder for us all is that this is our 9th session and for the most part, we are all comfortable with each other and the Land, but when we first came that was not the case for everyone. Some of us struggled with the transition, but with time adjusted and what was new became the norm. 

We continue to explore why storytelling is such an important part of what we do at Bushkids. In sharing our stories we validate each other when we listen and engage. This validation builds self confidence and resilience in the Bushkids. We invite many guests to share with us, so that the Bushkids are given the opportunity to connect with role models that are an important part of our community. 

What Does This Mean For Next Time?

We will continue to share our stories, and consider why we want to tell that story: To laugh? to grieve? to connect? to inform? to keep it alive? to share a gift or a teaching? We all have different reasons for the stories we want to tell. 

We will remember that sometimes we need to be vulnerable to tell our stories. Connection and beauty can follow that vulnerability and create new connections or opportunities. 

Most of the Bushkids have made a journal, and if they have decided not to make one we invite them to bring one to keep at the site. We will have a sit spot when they will have the opportunity to document through words or pictures what they have noticed or ideas for a story that they may want to share in the future about Bushkids.