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HELSTON: Confronting history in a non-threatening way

Charlotte Helston is a reporter with InfoNews.
August 01, 2014 - 6:31 AM

The Splatsin First Nation in Enderby is welcoming one and all to take a journey through time and memory in the stories of its people.

From ancient legends to contemporary tales, the stories in an upcoming community play, Tuwitames, tell of Splatsin values, traditions and defining moments in their history.

Historian and co-author of the script, Rosalind Williams, interviewed and recorded the stories of people in the community, some of whom underwent the trauma of the Sixties Scoop, a time when many First Nations children were plucked from their homes and placed in foster care. 

“At times I’ve had to stand in and read people’s parts and even though I wrote the piece, when I had to read it out loud I choked up, it was so emotional,” Williams said.

Stories that are hard to tell are often hard to hear. But these are stories we, as an audience, can’t shy away from, even when they are shocking, disturbing or uncomfortable. One of the organizers for the play said, “this is a way to tell a story about a time that was difficult in a non-threatening way that will help people understand what that time was like.”

For people who have had their land, their culture, their children, and their language threatened, sharing their stories in a way that’s non-threatening is a moving invitation. Rather than shutting us out, they are letting us in.

First Nations can be threatening when they need to be—standing as warriors before excavators come to ravage their land or marching against  government legislation. But they also want society to understand what drives them to those demonstrations of defiance. Where two cultures sit in opposite rooms, the Splatsin are willing to open the door between them.

Stories are all we are. They define us, guide us, reaffirm our values. Telling our stories makes us exist.

Most of us will never fully know what it’s like to have our children stolen from us, our traditions outlawed or our language erased. But we can gain an understanding of what it was like. Their stories will take you there.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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