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Aboriginal storytellers to teach and entertain district students

Two Aboriginal storytellers who were in the area’s schools last year are returning to the district in February, which is Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month.

Two Aboriginal storytellers who were in the area’s schools last year are returning to the district in February, which is Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month. Also visiting students as a project of the literacy hub of Parkland Regional Library are Rabbit and Bear Paws, puppets from a series of Rabbit and Bear Paws graphic novels.

            Carol Daniels will be in the Canora Junior Elementary School during the afternoon of February 2, while she and her husband Lyle will be at Yorkton and at the Canora Composite School on February 3. The Rabbit and Bear Paws presentation will be at Kamsack Comprehensive Institut3e on February 4 and at Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex on February 5.

            For Aboriginal people, storytelling is both a gift, and a very old custom, sanctioned by the people, said information from Carol Marriott of Karmas, a literacy co-ordinator for the Parkland Regional Library. “It has a place, and it has those who are recognized by the community as translators of this custom.

“In Aboriginal storytelling there is a difference between stories used more for entertainment and those that are more focused on the teachings of culture, ceremonies, and spirituality.

Carol Daniels is an Aboriginal artist, who is multi-disciplined in the areas of writing, storytelling, singing and drumming and visual art, the information said. Her latest project is to celebrate the release of her first novel of fiction, entitled Bearskin Diary.

On a regular basis, she enjoys performing at schools, community centres and children’s festivals across the province, it said. She is a published poet, short story writer and playwright.

As a visual artist, her work has been exhibited in art galleries across Saskatchewan and Northern Canada. As a musician, a CD of women’s drum songs, on which Carol was featured, was recently nominated for a Prairie Music Award.

Daniels is Cree and Chipewyan with roots in Sandy Bay. However before pursuing her art on a full-time basis, she worked as a journalist for more than 30 years, working in television and radio at APTN, CTV and CBC.

Lyle Daniels was born in Regina and is a member of the Kawacatoose First Nation. He lived in the inner city of Regina that was a haven for at-risk youth. He survived his teenage years by participating in sports as a means of keeping him in school.

A trained facilitator, Lyle was hired to deliver the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Program (ACAP) with the First Nations University of Canada. He has been active in providing training in Aboriginal leadership and Aboriginal awareness, and has worked with groups like Rawlco Radio, the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Police Service, Farm Credit Canada, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and many others.

Currently, Lyle holds the position with the Saskatchewan Building Trades Council as the Labour Force Development Strategist, assisting with under-represented groups to gain employment into the building and construction trade unions.

            Rabbit and Bear Paws is for the young and the young at heart, says information on their website. This series is set in 1750s colonized North America and features the comical adventures of two brothers, Rabbit and Bear Paws.

Using traditional Native teachings and humour, the stories are based on The Seven Fires Prophecies and The Seven Grandfathers.

 The characters are mischievous and the audience learns enjoyable life lessons from their numerous pranks and mistakes while also appreciating the unity of the Native communities and how they related to one another peacefully, the information said.

Rabbit and Bear Paws are heroes that were created by Christopher Meyer, Tanya Leary and Chad Solomon to share humorous adventures based on traditional teachings.

“This allows us to carry on the teachings to the youth who wish to explore their roots, while helping to share the wisdom of the Aboriginal community with the universal audience (non-aboriginal), the information said. The Anishinabek were the middle-men of the Fur trading era. So the Anishinabek would have traveled and traded with other Nations the same goods that they traded with the French and the English.

“The idea is to have the family – Rabbit, Bear Paws, Clover Blossom and Grey Stone, visit other communities sharing with our audiences how Native peoples worked out their differences peacefully when challenges arose. At the same time the stories show how we all learn from each other and that we need to help each other out, including the new neighbours (Europeans).

“All the characters are based on traditional teachings, it said. Rabbit is based on the ideas from The Seven Fires Prophecies. He is to be the little boy who helps to guide us to the path the ancestors have made for us, while Bear Paws is based on stories that describe Naniboozhoo and the many adventures that were created around this person.

“We use The Seven Grandfathers to help create all age stories that reflect a positive message that is needed for all the people of the medicine wheel. The main characters were brothers, so the adventures would be around social experiences and everyday life events that would happen in the 18th century that are as important today as they were yesterday.”

            Christopher Meyer is a co-writer of the graphic novel series. Tanya Leary is Salteaux First Nation from Roseau River, Man. She is an author, an artist, a mother, an outdoor adventurer and life-long learner and is dedicated to promoting First Nations culture in education. Chad Solomon, who will be conducting the puppet show at Kamsack and Cote, is a member of the Henvey Inlet, First Nation. His grandfather Art Solomon, a traditional healer and justice activist, would spend his time building wooden toys and playing with Chad and his siblings. He learned from his grandfather that no matter how old one becomes, one should always be young-at-heart and that laughter is the greatest medicine. This is the spirit behind the comical adventures of the Rabbit and Bear Paws series.

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