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SUNTEP P.A. Celebrates Indigenous Storytelling Month

By Ashley Parenteau, SUNTEP P.A. Faculty

Feb 29, 2024

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The winter months are a time for storytelling in many Indigenous communities. After the long summer and fall months spent preparing for the cold winters, it was a time to sit and listen to the Old Ones, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers, who would share the oral tradition with members of their community. This tradition has been special to Indigenous peoples since time immemorial. The stories would often contain life lessons unbeknownst to the listeners, hold sacred teachings and connect family and friends.

“I enjoyed listening to the storytellers. It made me wish that I would’ve had the chance to speak with both of my great-grandparents. I wish I could sit and listen to them share their knowledge and stories.” – Duane Carriere (Second Year Student)

The SUNTEP Prince Albert’s Culture Committee had the opportunity to welcome Elders and Knowledge Keepers to honour this time of year and recognize Indigenous Storytelling Month with the entire SUNTEP community. We started the morning with our guests, students, and staff participating in a smudge led by Culture Committee member Erika Warkentine. Following the smudge, SUNTEP students separated into three groups. They were able to listen to Leah Dorion, Curtis Breaton, and Shelley Belhumeur as they shared a wide variety of stories and teachings that connected students to their culture, the land and each other.

Leah Dorion shared many wonderful memories and stories from her father. She talked about the importance of teaching Metis values to children both in and out of the classroom, and she encouraged students to use these teachings as a guide in our modern era.

Curtis Breaton shared many wise teachings. A few powerful quotes that stuck out to both students and staff were the lesson of nurturing who you are, “You’re so special -there will never be another you in this whole existence, take care of yourself” and “The events that you’ve had the most trouble with are often you’re greatest teachers”, reminding us that although there may be difficult times, these lessons often hold value for the rest of your life.

Lastly, Shelley Belhumeur made her audience laugh throughout the sessions, sharing a variety of stories about her upbringing and the importance of sticking together as a family, she ended the session with the story of How the Mosquito came to be.

“I really enjoyed the storytelling. I love how education was incorporated, traditional teachings and oral stories. I went home and told an oral story to my family because it was so good. I absolutely love hearing things about my own culture and being able to share with it others.” – Charlyn Head (Third Year Student)

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