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February is Aboriginal Storytelling Month

Dickie Yuzicapi
Storytellers will be sharing passed down stories throughout the month of February for Aboriginal Storytelling Month which honours an oral tradition still practiced today. Courtesy: Dickie Yuzicapi

Winter is a time for storytelling in Indigenous communities with oral traditions going way back. It’s a way of knowing and understanding life lessons.

Storytelling is a winter activity,” said storyteller Dickie Yuzicapi. “It was always passed down from generation to generation. Older people to younger people.”

Read more: Aboriginal storytelling tradition lives on in Saskatchewan

The tradition has not faded in Knowledge Keeper Yuzicapi’s life. Growing up and raised by his great-grandparents in Okanese First Nation, Yuzicapi learned from life’s biggest lessons from the stories that were passed down to him.

“Throughout the winter months and back then in tipi times, [kids] would sit down with their grandparents and learn,” he said. “That’s basically them going to school. That’s how we learned through oral history … that’s the way it was shared, that’s the way it was taught to me and that’s the way it’s going to stay alive.”
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For the past nine years, Yuzicapi has partnered with Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples (LSSAP) to feature storytelling throughout February in different schools, local libraries, and cultural organizations with a mix of online and in-person events that highlight the power of storytelling.

Seventy-two storytellers from across the province will share various forms of storytelling such as poetry readings, stories for children, cooking classes, musical performances, and cultural teachings.

“We’ve all faced huge challenges during the pandemic, and we are drawing on the cultural teachings to persevere,” said Jessica Generoux, Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Project Coordinator. “We can draw on the strength and power of our stories to build community and bring healing during these troubled times.”

Read more: Light over Turtle Island: Indigenous tales about North America’s creation

An Associate Cree Professor at the First Nations University of Canada has dedicated his life to preserving Cree stories that were told to him as a child. Solomon Ratt has preserved those traditional stories.

“I was a ‘hideling’. My parents hid me from the authorities for a while,” stated Ratt in a release. “Before I was taken away to residential school, my mother shared these stories with me. I’ve been writing them down and sharing them for the past 40 years. These are stories about adventure, love, and life. They teach us how to behave as a human being.”

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yuzicapi and other storytellers will be featured in different places where his stories will be heard virtually. LSSAP stated that most libraries across Saskatchewan will be taking part in the event. A full schedule can be found on the LSSAP website: lssap.ca.

Click to play video: 'Indigenous authors and elders sharing stories throughout February' Indigenous authors and elders sharing stories throughout February
Indigenous authors and elders sharing stories throughout February – Feb 4, 2021

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