Connecting with Stories
Activity participants take another step on the path at the second station, where they find on a table an array of photocopies of short excerpts from memoirs, poetry, fiction, historical documents, song lyrics, and testimonies about the impact of colonialism on Indigenous peoples. A volunteer invites them all to choose a reading with a title that intrigues them, and then join with two or three others to go read it together at station 3 and talk about it.
Our selection of excerpts included:
A series of evocative essays by Richard Wagamese from his book of personal memoirs One Native Life (2009), and a passage from his novel Indian Horse (2012).
Fatty Legs: A True Story (Jordan-Fenton & Pokiak-Fenton, 2010), which tells the story of an Inuit girl and her experiences in a residential school.
A brief summary and fictionalized account of the story of Chanie Wenjack (misnamed "Charlie" by his teachers), a 12-year-old First Nations boy who died while trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return to his home 400 miles away. The discovery of Chanie Wenjack’s frozen body alongside an isolated stretch of railroad tracks in October of 1966 led to the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.
Two expressions of personal epiphanies experienced by Canadian descendants of immigrants that were written for the play, From the Heart: enter into the journey of reconciliation (Weigler, et al., 2013). The first was the lyrics to a song by Stephanie Tiede, "Patience of the Seasons" (p. 46), while the second was a passage from the scene “Born Complicit” by Susan Belford (p. 75) (both referenced in Weigler, 2015).
“Prayer” a prose poem about an Indigenous woman’s relationship to Great Blue Heron, is by Beth Brant (1999), a Mohawk writer from the Bay of Quinte.
A reproduction of a 1948 letter from the principal of an Indian Residential school who wrote to parents telling them that permission to have their children spend Christmas at home at their own expense was a privilege and could be easily revoked (O’Grady, 2015)
A passage from the preface to The Survivors Speak: A Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Truth & Reconciliation Commission, 2015c).
References to assist in finding these excerpts are included in the READINGS section along with an annotated bibliography of suggestions for many other sources of reading materials.