Since starting my work in First Nations communities back in 2014, I've had the privilege of being present for moments when traditional stories were being shared with children in the classroom, or when Knowledge Keepers are speaking. However, it wasn't until several years ago that I truly began to understand the significance of storytelling.
This past year, Culturally Committed Mentor Beau Wagner shared a passage with me that explained the importance of storytelling, and I found it very insightful. The passage was from a document titled First Nations Traditional Values, which stated:
"In traditional First Nations societies, the primary means of teaching proper behaviour and community values was through story-telling and were informally taught. In later years children, through observance, were prepared for more formal expressions of values through weddings, funerals, namings, etc....Stories, you see, are not just entertainment. Stories are power. They reflect the deepest, the most intimate perceptions, relationships, and attitudes of a people. Stories are how a people, a culture, thinks."
Since receiving this knowledge, I've considered the impact that teachings received through stories have had on me. When information is woven into story, it enriches the information and makes it tangible. Not only do lessons through stories entertain, but they evoke feelings and emotions as well. Further, stories help to reinforce learning. Since discovering the power held by story, I've been inspired to integrate this method of information sharing into many areas of my life: when I'm sharing information about Culturally Committed, or when I am parenting my children. Storytelling requires that I be more intentional when I am engaging in relationship. I need to process what is happening around me, consider what information I want to share, and chose my language carefully to ensure that what I share is woven into the message of the story.