Indigenous Storytelling Month goes online during COVID-19

·2 min read

Storytelling is in Rhonda Donais Walsh's bones.

"My mom said as soon as I could talk, I was telling stories," she said. "When I was a wee girl ... I remember going to school, we had a show and tell. I would come up with some real whoppers."

Now she's sharing traditional stories with children for Indigenous Storytelling Month. However, it looks very different than in the past. Telling stories to schoolchildren is being done virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It'll be a little challenging, because I won't have the audience participation and reaction," Donais Walsh said.

"So this year I chose to do more stories about lessons and like, for instance, I will teach about the porcupine, how the porcupine got quills, and then I will go into how the work of quilling came to the Nakota people."

Donais Walsh said she's using more visual elements with images of porcupines, the quills and even a porcupine puppet.

Storytelling keeping oral traditions alive

Donais Walsh grew up surrounded by storytelling, whether it was her mother telling stories or hearing elders laughing and telling stories about the past.

"It was ingrained in me as a child," she said. "And then just finding a book about the stories of Wesakechak and learning those stories, I think prompted me to tell my traditional stories."

Submitted by Rhonda Donais Walsh
Submitted by Rhonda Donais Walsh

In her 20s, Donais Walsh decided she wanted to be the next Mr. Dressup and eventually started working as Tulip the Clown.

She said stories keep people immersed, give young learners dynamic entertainment and pass on traditions.

"We got to keep our culture alive," she said. "And oral traditions make it possible for a culture to pass on knowledge. So I feel that's important.

"And I think it's important to make people laugh. And I feel if I've taken you away from whatever's troubling you for even a few moments and I can make you laugh … then I've done my job."

Submitted by Rhonda Donais Walsh
Submitted by Rhonda Donais Walsh

Storytelling events at Libraries in Regina, Saskatoon

For families or individuals wanting to participate in Indigenous Storytellers Month, the Regina Public Library and Saskatoon Public Library have some options.

The Regina library is hosting the following storytelling events:

  • Indgenous Storyteller's Gathering on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

  • Indigenous Storytelling Through Children's Books on Feb. 3

  • Indigenous Storytelling Through Graphic Novels on Feb. 10

  • Indigenous Storytelling Through Films on Feb. 17

  • Indigenous Storytelling through Puppets on Feb. 23

The Saskatoon Library is holding the following events:

  • Storytelling Spotlight: All About Storytelling on Feb. 1

  • Storytelling Spotlight: Saulteaux Stories on Feb. 3

  • Indigenous Spotlight: Music from Dallas & Phil Boyer on Feb. 6

  • Storytelling Spotlight:Stories with Maureen Belange on Feb. 10

  • Indigenous Spotlight: Music from Marentin Fehr on Feb. 13

  • Storytelling Spotlight: Sculpture & Story with Lyndon Tootoosis on Feb. 17

  • Indigenous Spotlight: Make Bannock & Soup with Glenna Henderson on Feb. 20

  • Storytelling Spotlight: Eagle Feather News on Feb. 24