And so it was true.

In true turtle-on-turtle all-the-way-down fashion, I wrote this story about a story about a story – and you’ll never believe what happened! This is the story of how evil came into the world. It doesn’t tell us when and it doesn’t tell us when it will end; all it does is give us something to believe in and hope for a better future.

Once upon a time there was a storyteller who wandered the world enchanting people with her words. Some called her a witch, others an old hag, but most just called her magic.

And what did she look like?

Her long hair was filled with flowers and twigs and a bird’s nest or two; she wore flowing shirts and billowing skirts covered by a long torn robe that allowed mice and squirrels to cling to her train; the staff she carried was a branch given to her by the oldest wisest tree of the forest and lizards played along it’s grooves.

She had been everywhere that someone could go and even a few places you couldn’t. When she got someplace new she would find a nice tree to sit and lean against and she would begin telling stories. From her seat her words would be taken by the wind and circle the world twice over and find a place to live among the hearts and minds of her listeners.

Her audiences were made of villages, animals, trees, and other magic sorts. TheyWitch 1 would listen and they would see the truth in her stories of things they may have never seen. She told of a world where the only thing known was water for miles and an otter came forth and said it was true. And what else would her stories be about?

She told of a world where the land was so flat you could see the back of your own head.
She told of a world where its people only lived at the very tops of trees.
She told of worlds past the stars where unthinkable creatures lived.
She told of worlds where the children would play and sing all day and have no cares at all.
She told of worlds where people could fly among the birds.
She told of a world in the clouds where you could relax all day.

And so it was true.

But one day the wind told her of a gathering of sorts for witches. She traveled for one day and many nights to get to where it was being held and once there she found she was late. She walked towards a light in the woods that had shadows dancing around it. As she came to the edge of the treeline she found the animals too scared to go any closer but too curious to retreat. She shook her head. She felt shadows trying to grab at her.

She entered the gathering and heard witches of all sorts bragging about what they could do. Some could fly into the worlds of the sky. Another could swim to the deepest depths of any ocean. Some could transport themselves and others could turn invisible. One could use the natural elements however she felt. Another could transform items into anything she wanted. Some bragged about creating enough gold to make them richest. One even claimed to be able to use mind control on any living thing. What do you notice about these witches?

The conversation took a turn for the worst as they began competing in strength and creativity of spells and charms. They could all do the nice things, but the darker arts were more difficult. They started fires and created lightning. They made bugs that tried to scuttle by unnoticed into poisonous beasts. They created potions and spells that created all sorts of evils.

The storyteller shook her head. She began to feel tired watching these witches play with the nature of the world. She got an ache in her knees and a kink in her neck and then a boisterous witch came up to her asking why she wasn’t having any fun. Would you be having fun?

The storyteller asked the witch if she wanted to truly know evil. “And you think you can do better than what has been done? Well then have at it. Everyone, we have another contestant,” she laughed as she gave the storyteller a seat in the center.

A male witch approached the storyteller, “What do you intend on doing that is worse than what has already been done?”

Witch 2The woman looked at that witch long and hard and simply said, “Just listen.” From there she proceeded to tell the most horrifying, intriguing and heartbreaking tale that has ever been told. It began happy enough, as almost all stories do, but she stopped right at the place when everything was a horrible, chaotic mess and her audience held their breath and waited to hear the final resolution.

“And then what happened?” the witches prodded.

“That’s it,” she responded.

“But that can’t be it. That’s not a proper ending,” said a witch of four.

“Well maybe not all stories have proper endings,” she said sadly.

“Well then take it back,” the girl insisted.

But she could not. As she said her final words, the wind took them away across the land and it was too late. For once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world.

And so it was true.

In the end, you always have to be careful of the stories you tell, and perhaps more importantly – the stories you listen to.

I’m a nanny, and the kids I work with are obsessed with stories. Every day as we walk home from school I’ll tell them a new one. Sometimes they’re well-known, sometimes they’re stories about my childhood, and other times I just make them up.  For me I like telling them stories because I can get them to contribute as well. I ask them questions like “What would you like their name to be?” Or “What did his house look like?” and they can add whatever they want to the story. I showed their additions in italics as these parts will change with each telling. And I imagine telling in a group would be significantly different. Also, while telling a story to two children around 5 and 7 I’ve found that interruptions occur quite frequently. Sometimes they ask questions or ask to add something in, but there are also times where they just get distracted.

Most of all I like telling these kids stories aloud because I can take ownership of it and have the kids engage with it as well. I believe in this because I was raised listening to the stories of my grandparents and parents. There’s something more personal and exciting about hearing someone’s individual voice recount an event.

StoryCorps is the best example of this (you can find more information about their mission here). You can listen and/or watch and really experience these short human experiences. Just like Thomas King these people probably initially think “there are other people with better stories; who cares about mine?” But StoryCorps argues otherwise and I agree. I believe that finding a way to tell your own story is an important part of understanding yourself and a way to connect to others. I teach these children the same and they’ve begun gaining the skills to recount their own lives with excitement and pride. This pride is an invaluable skill that I think many people may not understand is connected to storytelling. StoryCorps has also initiated a Tribal Libraries program in which Native communities can use StoryCorps resources for recording and sharing orally.

Storytelling has always been a part of my life and I hope that initiatives like StoryCorps can prove how important they are to children and adults alike.

Works Cited

Cain, Susan. How to Tell Your Own Life Story. Quiet Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2016.

StoryCorps. StoryCorps. Ed. Dave Isay. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2016.

Man, Satanic. Cloaked woman on edge of lake, book open and dark mist encircling. Digital image. Satanic Man. Tumblr, n.d. Web. 28 May 2016. <http://satanic-man.tumblr.com/>.

Pilon, Alain. Witch Photo with Special Effects. Digital image. 500px ISO. Klassy Goldberg, 2014. Web. 28 May 2016.


The Stories are Everywhere

Chamberlin puts the concept of home in parallel with the relationship between imagination and reality and how both are human perceptions that tend to be socially constructed. So I found the explanation of “home” in something he could appreciate – a fantasy story.

Bilbo describes home as where his books are while the dwarves are trying to reclaim the mountain that was taken from them forcefully by a dragon. Bilbo admits that while he belongs in a peaceful home reading his books from his armchair, he has left that home in order to help the dwarves regain theirs. It’s easy to relate the two stories; The Hobbit and that of the Indigenous peoples around the globe (who have more than a single dragon to conquer in order to persevere). This story is both real and imaginary, like Chamberlin’s examination in If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?, however Bilbo’s concept of ‘home’ translates easily into our world.

‘Home’ is a figurative idea that we are taught to believe in as well as a reality we experience (Chamberlin 78). Home is where the heart is; where we curl up with a good book; where we lay our heads; where our ancestors lived; where our family is; where you keep your underwear (according to a 4 year old I know). I can relate to all of these as I’m sure you can as well. As Chamberlin consistently reiterates, the stories that make up our individual lives as well as our cultural lives are necessary and will connect us. The internet has provided a way for millions of stories to be shared from a public copy of The Survivors Speak, which reports stories of the survivors of Residential Schools who can now know for sure that Canadians know the truth, to the stories of immigrants who arrived at Pier 21 who faced harsh conditions and risked everything from their homeland to move here. All of these stories share a similar tone of distress and with these stories empathy can be gained and show the interconnection between what has become “Us” and “Them”.

I find that the common connection between the notions of ‘home’ across all cultures is that it is a place of belonging. Belonging is at the foundation of Canada for both those who were always here and those who have come here and from this similarity common ground can (almost literally) be achieved.

However, the differences between culturally practices have prevented this common ground to be reached and instead consequences such as contradictory claims on land and home have emerged. The immigrants were told ‘come to Canada, there’s plenty of land for you to own’ which for many was a dream come true. Advertisements presented a land of opportunity, not conflict. Many immigrants wouldn’t have realized their impact on the Indigenous peoples because in the same way that Chamberlin is told he can’t eat peas with a knife, the settlers didn’t understand land ownership in any terms other than papers and laws. To them this new land was the home they had worked so hard for and the Indigenous weren’t the owners. On the other side, the Indigenous peoples had a different notion of how one owns land. Through these differences conflicts surrounding land occurred despite the consistent notion that the land is ‘home’ to both groups.

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Chamberlin claims that by changing the claim to the land it wouldn’t necessarily mean having anyone move or giving any homes up, but rather providing an appropriate association between Canada’s land and her Indigenous peoples in the same way we associate the word home with both a reality and an idea. In fantasy terms, this means allowing the dwarves claim on the mountain and internationally recognizing it, but nationally sharing in the profits.


Works Cited

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This Is Your Land Where Are Your Stories? Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003. Print.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Dir. Peter Jackson. Perf. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage. New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 2012. Online.

“Culture Trunks.” Pier 21. Canadian Museum of Immigration: Pier 21, 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.


Canadian-isms Introduction

Bonjour, eh?How to Be Canadian

(That means ‘Welcome to my Canadian Literature Studies Blog’ in Canadian)

I’m Charlie, a double major in English Literature and Film Studies, and one of my many guilty pleasures is laughing at Canadian stereotypes no matter how true or false. Right now you should look up how to be Canadian. I dare you. It’s pretty entertaining. And while I am proud to call myself a fan of both the Jays and poutine, I know that these stereotypes only scratch the surface of this country and this summer I have a simple goal; to further explore Canada’s interior. I (of course) mean that metaphorically – I will be doing this all from the comfort of my pajamas and with Google at my fingertips.

Canadian-isms in the media are vastly over generalized as we can see in this advertisement for a beer named after our country and other throwaway references in TV or movies.

But there’s more to Canada and this course is my opportunity to learn about the complex stories that create the ever-growing mosaic. Our first book, J. Edward Chamberlin’s If this is your Land, Where are your Stories? summarizes our course and my interest in it. We’re getting a chance to study and discuss stories and how those stories connect us all to this land.

In Stephen Marche’s article about the documentary Being Canadian he claims that to be Canadian is to be invisible when abroad, specifically in the United States, but I find this over-simplified. Canada is diverse and spread not only across our own country, but throughout other countries as well. We may not flaunt or boast about our country, but will always tell the stories. Mike Meyers is proof of this, as Marche has mentioned. Stories are what make us Canadian. Every person on this land has a story about where they came from whether it goes back to a great creator or a grandparent who came across the ocean in a ship.

For me this course is going to broaden my own connection with this country in which my experience is that of an immigrants child. I love reading something when I’ve visited the setting and experienced the actions. The setting becomes part of your home; it’s refreshing and comforting.

So let’s get started.



Works Cited

Cohen, Robert. “Being Canadian: The Movie.” Being Canadian. Grainy Pictures, 2015. Web. 13 May 2016.

I Am Canadian. Dir. Kevin Donovan. Perf. Jeff Douglas. YouTube: Vinko, 2000. Online.

Ferguson, Will. How to Be Canadian Cover. Digital image. Will Ferguson: Books. Will Ferguson, 2000. Web. 13 May 2016.

Marche, Stephen. “What It Really Means to Be Canadian.” Esquire. Hearst Communications, 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 May 2016.