Through the Eye of the Raven

Through the Eye of the Raven

Lesson 3.3 Assignment 3.7

I chose to examine a critical moment in the lives of Lionel Red Dog and Eli Stands Alone, in Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water. For this reason, I examined these pages (within the 2007 version of the novel): Lionel Red Dog – Pages: 60 – 69 and Eli Stands Alone – Pages: 378 – 382.

In these two sections, only Lionel’s pages are referenced by Jane Flick. However, in both parts, I found additional connections and interconnections between the characters that are not in Flick. In this blog post, I focus not on Flick’s notes, but instead on the additional observations that I have made. that uncover king’s de-colonization and his implied message about colonization.

Lionel Red Dog – Pages: 60 – 69

Lionel goes to Wounded Knee, where there is an on-going occupation by Native Americans protesting their poor living conditions and treatment (Flick 148-9). Lionel’s purpose,  in going to Wounded Knee, was to read his boss’ paper, but instead of accomplishing this, he inadvertently gets drawn into the protest. Some observations I had about this section:

Lionel’s name, “Lionel Red Dog”, (King 64) also points to King’s use of reversals, or backwardness throughout the novel. The reference to Dog reminds us of “[t]hat Dog Dream [that] has everything backward” from the beginning of the book (King 2).

Commentary on the Residential School System:
Lionel “stood there, feeling vulnerable” (King 60). I believe this is a reference to the vulnerability of children who were placed in Residential Schools (“Reclaiming“).  Betraying Lionel as vulnerable, King once again uses reversal as a method of making his point. He shows Lionel standing with the protesting Indians, feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. He is “shifting from one leg to the other, putting his hands behind his back, putting his hands in front of him, pushing his lips out, sucking his lips in” (King 60). Lionel, a First Nations person, is feeling uncomfortable and detached in this situation. When he first arrived, he had no reaction to the fact that the people there were protesting against the poor treatment of Native American Peoples. It did not occur to him, that the issues of the protesters, were also his own issues. Through Lionel’s reactions, King shows just how effective the Residential School systems was in destroying Native People’s connection to their culture.

King further drives home his point, that Native People’s connections to their roots have been severed, through his reference to the confiscation of numerous Reservations: Lionel tries to make an excuse so he can leave when he said, “I’ve got a reservation.” To which the protester “took Lionel by the shoulders, looked at him hard, and said, “Some of us don’t” (King 61). These few words emphasize not only actual theft of Native lands, but also the theft of Native communities through the deliberate destruction of families and bands. Aboriginal peoples believe that all life is interconnected. “First Nations relationships fully embrace the notion that people and their families are strongly connected to the communities they live in, their ancestors and future descendants, the land they live on, and all of the plant, animal and other creatures that live upon it” (“Interconnectedness”).  However, with colonization, Native beliefs were outlawed and children were forcibly torn away from their parents and placed in residential schools. This process caused generations of Aboriginal children to be separated from their communities and from their beliefs. Moving Aboriginal peoples into residential schools ripped away their source of spirit and because they no longer felt a connection to their people, land, or ancestors, many were left feeling isolated and bereft.

King’s use of cartoon character to portray official “government-type” individuals.
I believe King uses cartoon character names for the official “government-type” characters, first to portray how credible, yet ridiculous the situation is that Lionel finds himself. In addition to this, I believe it is a statement about the historical relationship between the government and Native Peoples. “Tom and Gerry” are the two Hotel security men who escort Lionel to the police (King 67). “Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse, are the stars of a Long-Running series of short theatrical cartoons produced by MGM” (“YMMV”). The use of the names, Tom and Gerry, reinforces the position that the Invading Europeans, erroneously felt they did nothing wrong in their actions towards the Native Peoples. This is shown through the trope: “Tom never ever did anything wrong! Tom was only following his instincts, how dare Jerry object to being eaten!” (“YMMV”).

Tom and Gerry hand Lionel over to two police officers, “Chip” and Dale” (King 68). “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers was one of several Animated Series on the syndicated “Disney Afternoon” block of the late 1980s into the 1990s”. The Rescue Rangers started “after a police dog they befriended is put behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit” (“Chip”).  The first point I want to make is, Chip and Dale are goofy characters and they are Rangers. In this way Chip and Dale are a metonomy for police as stupid and unintelligent. As a result, King is using them to send a message about the police. Secondly, Lionel’s situation is a reflection of Chip and Dale’s friend, who was put in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

Commentary on Stereotypes:
King engages in yet another reversal, when Lionel spends a month in prison, for a crime he didn’t commit, and returns to “Blossom, an unemployed ex-con” (King 68).  Lionel moves from being detached from his cultural situation, to being placed in the centre of the negative reality of his culture, resulting in part, from the Residential School System.  Lionel becoming unemployed speaks directly to stereotypes attributed to Native Peoples.  “Over the course of history, since Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ North America, First Nations have been depicted as blood thirsty savages (the earliest stereotype), drunken, poor, wooden, lazy, and “casino rich” (the latest stereotype), to name a few (Joseph).  Lionel is tagged as an Indian Activist, loses his position, but finds a new job.  However, three weeks later, “the police arrived to question him about a rally that the American Indian Movement had planned for the following weekend” (King 69).  Lionel knows nothing about it, but just the suspicion that he might causes him to become “unemployed again” (King 69). Stereotypes are an important issue, because “[f]or First Nations, it diminishes self-esteem and cultural pride, and for non-First Nations it dehumanizes and enhances negative perceptions of First Nations people and their culture” (Joseph). The last few pages of Lionel’s section that I analyzed tie directly back to the residential school system, and reflect the “response to RCAP’s five-volume report that revealed an overwhelming link between the social crisis in Aboriginal communities and the Residential School System” (“Reclaiming”).  Lionel’s situation goes beyond stereotypes, and speaks to a failed system.  A system that has resulted from long-term historic trauma resulting from the residential school experience.

Eli Stands Alone – Pages: 381 – 382

Eli is driving Lionel to the Sun Dance when he recalls the death of his wife, Karen. There is a lot going on within these few pages, but I am going to focus on these main points: The role that death plays in Native Culture, the Sun Dance, and the notion of home. These are my observations:

Death in Native Culture:
“The Blackfoot believe spirits to be an active and vital part of everyday life. Therefore, they viewed illness as the visible presence of an evil spirit in a person’s body. Consequently, such illness required the expertise of a professional medicine man or woman who had acquired, through a vision, the ability to heal the sick by removing evil spirits” (Hanes). Taking this belief into consideration puts a different view on both Karen’s sickness and her recovery. It raises the question of what evil spirit caused her illness, and what caused the evil spirit to leave.  Add into this mixture the fact that she still dies, because she is hit by a car as they prepare to return to the Sun Dance after being absent for “over twenty years” (King 381). This raises the question, of what evil spirit brought forth her death.  I believe King is making a statement about the Sun Dance and evil spirits.

Sun Dance:
“Once the Sun Dance lodge was erected around the central cottonwood pole, the dance began and lasted four days. During this time, the dancers, who had taken their own sacred vows, fasted from both food and water. They called to the sun, through sacred songs and chants, to grant them power, luck, or success” (Hanes). In addition, the European Invaders tried to ban the Sun Dance. I think it is interesting to note that Eli never wanted to go to the Sun Dance, and when he finally decided to return, because Karen requested it, and she had just defeated death, he reluctantly agreed to go. However, Karen’s life was taken from her before he (or they) could return.

Add to this, as “quoted by Lawrence House, the Sundance Chief, and the caretaker of the ceremony: ‘If there were a hierarchy of ceremonies, the Sundance would be at the pinnacle,’ he said. ‘It’s the ceremony of ceremonies. That’s because the Sundance involves a sacrifice of self to give something to the Creator in order to have prayers answered’” (Ashawasegai). Karen’s death is a sacrifice of life, but for what answered prayer?

Notion of Home:
Karen asks Eli if he is afraid of going home, and he answers, “I am home” (King 382).  Throughout the novel Eli has separated himself from his cultural ties, and has turned his back on his family and people. In many ways this signifies the isolation created within Native communities resulting from the Residential School System (“Reclaiming”).  Eli was conflicted on who he was, and as his sister Norma tells Lionel, “Your uncle wanted to be a white man” (King 36).  He married a white woman, he turned his back on his home and culture, but in the end he returns.  The death of Karen – his place of home, caused him to return to his roots. To return to the home he grew up, a home that he decides to save from the dam.

Works Cited

Ashawasegai, Jennifer . “Sundance is the Ceremony of Ceremonies.” Windspeaker Volume: 30 Issue: 6. The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (2012). Web. 7 July 2016.

Chip’n’Dale Rescue Rangers.TV Tropes. Tvtropes.org. n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.

Collins, Haisla, et el. Through the Eye of the Raven. 2010. Mural. Raven’s Eye Studio, Vancouver. Web. 26 July 2016.

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161/162 (1999). Web. 18 July 2016.

Hanes, Richard C. and Pifer, Matthew T. “Blackfoot.” Countries and Their Cultures. EveryCulture.com. n.d.Web. 27 July 2016.

InterconnectednessFirst Nations Pedagogy. FirstNationsPedagogy.com. n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

Joseph, Bob. “The Enduring Nature of First Nation Stereotypes.Working Effectively with Indigenous People  ictinc.ca. n.d. Web. 14 April 2015.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. New York: Bantam Books, 1994. Print

Reclaiming History: The Residential School System in Canada.” Where are the Children. WhereAreTheChildren.ca. n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.

YMMV/Tom and Jerry”. TV Tropes. Tvtropes.org n.d. Web. 26 July 2016



Washed Away

Lesson 3.2 Assignment 3.5

#1 In order to tell us the story of a stereo salesman, Lionel Red Deer (whose past mistakes continue to live on in his present), a high school teacher, Alberta Frank (who wants to have a child free of the hassle of wedlock—or even, apparently, the hassle of heterosex!), and a retired professor, Eli Stands Alone (who wants to stop a dam from flooding his homeland), King must go back to the beginning of creation.
Why do you think this is so?

Ocean Wave, Tsunami

Ocean Wave, Tsunami

There is much more going on in this story than Lionel, Alberta, and Eli’s personal challenges. There is the interweaving of several storylines, and they all centre around water. “Where did the water come from?” askes Alberta, Patrolman Delano, Sergean Cereno, and Lionel (King 104). In addition, the last two sentences in the first section are: “In the beginning there was nothing. Just the water” (King 107). The theme of water continues throughout and ends with the dam breaking, and this is the crux of the story. King writes, “beneath the power and the motion [of the dam breaking] there was a more ominous sound of things giving way, of things falling apart” (454). This I believe, is why King goes back to the beginning of creation, because creation cannot occur without water. He wants things, as in the current situation between First Nations and the governments of Canada and the U.S. to be reborn. He wants the current situation to give way to something better. A falling apart of how things have evolved, to make room for an improved, more equitable situation for the original inhabitants of this land.  King is deliberately using water to make a point, and I believe he uses it because it is through water that creation is possible. “‘Hmmmm, says Coyote. ‘All this watery imagery must mean something’” (King 391).

The first creation story King tells is of “First Woman” (King 38). It is interesting to note that she ends up on a train with “a bunch of Indians” with “chains on their legs”, and all of them are “going to Florida” (King 105). This ties in directly with Alberta’s story to her students about the army putting 72 Native Americans into chains. They were “put on a train and sent to Florida” where they were “imprisoned at Fort Marion” (King 15). Note, this is a metonymy of the treatment received by the Native Peoples of North America by the European Invaders. In addition, this points to the reason why King intertwines the stories of Lionel, Alberta, and Eli with the beginning of creation. Not only does he wants each of these characters to re-create their own stories, but he also wants to re-create the story of how the Native Peoples of North American have been, and continue to be, treated.

The title of the book by Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water, alludes to both water, and the treatment of the Native Peoples. “As long as the grass is green and the water’s run” (King 234) is a direct quote from “Article 5 of the Treaty with the Comanches and Other Tribes and Bands, 12 August 1861” (Bernholz). The title ties into not only water, but also the treatment of Native Peoples. This dual message within the water theme can be found in the three cars that get carried away by water and eventually float out over the edge of the dam. “The Pinto is the first of a series of jokes about the disappearing cars that go over the dam. The three ships of Columbus on the voyage sponsored by Isabella of Spain were the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.” (Flick 146). The three ships of Columbus, that crossed the water, started the European colonization of North America. Throughout the book, these three cars are carried away by water. However, this water theme also includes purification, and points to correcting the wrongs that were done to Native Peoples. This can be found when Robinson Crusoe says: “‘The last time you fooled around like this,’” said Robinson Crusoe, ‘the world got very wet.’ ‘And we had to start all over again’” (King 456). This is a reference to the great flood, and “[a] flood myth or deluge myth is a symbolic narrative in which a great flood is sent by a deity, or deities, to destroy civilization in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primeval waters found in certain creation myths, as the flood waters are described as a measure for the cleansing of humanity, in preparation for rebirth” (Flood).  Note, this is a reference to cleansing humanity, and of making wrongs right again.  It is important to consider that the idea of the great flood “is a theme widespread among many cultures” (Flood).  Click here for full details about the full extent of this myth (Flood).

I believe that King goes back to the beginning of creation as a statement that the current situation needs to be reborn. Although each of these characters are running from their past, each take steps to create a new future, and in this way their actions reflect the need for rebirth.


Works Cited:

Bernholz, Charles D., et al. “As long as grass shall grow and water run: The treaties formed by the Confederate States of America and the tribes in Indian Territory, 1861.” Treaties Portal. n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Flick Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161/162 (1999). Web. 18 July 2016.

“Flood Stories.”  Crystal Links. CrystalLinks.com. n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. New York: Bantam Books, 1994. Print

Ocean Wave, Tsunami.” n.d. Digital Image. Mota. Web 18 July 2016.



First voices

Chekamos River

Chekamos River

Lesson 3.1 Assignment 3.2

5]  In her article, “Green Grass, Running Water: Theorizing the World of the Novel,” Blanca Chester observes that “the conversation that King sets up between oral creation story, biblical story, literary story, and historical story resembles the dialogues that Robinson sets up in his storytelling performances (47). She writes:

“Robinson’s literary influence on King was, as King himself says, “inspirational.” When one reads King’s earlier novel, Medicine River, and compares it with Green Grass, Running Water, Robinson’s impact is obvious. Changes in the style of the dialogue, including the way King’s narrator seems to address readers and characters directly (using the first person), in the way traditional characters and stories from Native cultures (particularly Coyote) are adapted, and especially in the way that each of the distinct narrative strands in the novel contains and interconnects with every other, reflect Robinson’s storied impact.” (46)

For this blog assignment I would like you to make some comparisons between Harry Robson’s writing style in “Coyote Makes a Deal with the King Of England” and King’s style in Green Grass, Running Water. What similarities can you find between the two story-telling voices? Coyote and God are present in both texts, how do they compare in character and voice across the stories?

Robinson’s story “Coyote Makes a Deal With the King of England” (Robinson 64 – 85) and King’s story “Green Grass, Running Water” (King) share many similarities. Both stories experience the world through Native oral traditions and Western written traditions of storytelling. In this way they combine first voices with written text to create dialogue between Western theory and Native theory.  As a result, both stories blend current day Western elements and traditional Native stories.  As Chester writes in her article: both ways of storytelling, “reveals a dialogue with the past that moves into the present” and this incorporates “a history of Native tradition that now includes European elements within it” (Chester 45). In this way both stories reveal and utilize both Native and non-Native ways of knowing the world.

Another method that is used in both texts is the deliberate avoidance of directly addressing specific topics. For King, he alludes to the characters heading to the Sundance, and he gives glimpses of the Sundance, yet he does not directly speak about the Sundance. For Robinson, his story points to a reckoning, which implies Truth and Reconciliation, but does not address  this directly. I feel that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has started to prepare the path for reparation, however, far too many people are unfamiliar with the details. I came across an excellent interview by Conversations That Matter entitled, “Truth & Reconciliation Reading Challenge. Click here for the video, and to learn more about this challenge.

Robinson and King’s stories both draw the reader/listener into the story, and make the listener/reader an active participant in the story. At times, in both stories, the words need to be read aloud to get the full understanding of what is being said. For example, in King, three men come into the Dead Dog diner with the names, “Louie, Ray, Al” (King 338). However, if you just read the words, you will not appreciate the connection, nor the meaning, that these allude to Louis Riel (the leader of the Métis and the Red River Rebellion). Whereas with Robinson, his story encourages reader to read them out aloud, because they are written with an oral voice. As a result, both authors meld oral story telling with written words. As Shultis writes in her thesis, “[b]y gesturing towards orality in their written literature, these authors [this includes Robinson’s work and also applies to King’s work] acknowledge the dialogic nature of a narrative that has been shaped by ancestral experiences and memory and thus write against the colonial master narrative of the contemporary Canadian nation-state” (Shultis iii). Click here to read the full thesis.

Coyote and God are present in both texts. In Robinson, “God sent the Angel to Coyote” (Robinson 66).  In this story, and in his first story about the twins, God is a benevolent being. Coyote and his twin, in Robinson’s stories, are the forefathers of both the First Nations people of Canada, as well as of the English. In the first story about the twins, Coyote is not the trickster, but instead is the obedient twin. However, when Coyote goes to England to meet the King, he needs to trick the King into agreeing to write the book. In this way  Coyote plays the trickster. However the trick Coyote plays is also a commentary on how the Europeans tricked the Native Peoples, and Coyote uses the European methods against the Europeans. In King, Coyote bridges different realities, and plays a permanent role throughout the novel in his dialogue with the narrator. These dialogues provide an avenue that aims for truth while examining the First Nation’s character’s personal and cultural struggles. In many ways Coyote is very much the same character in both texts, although King’s version comes across a bit silly at times.  However god is portrayed very differently in King’s story, and instead of being benevolent, is in fact displayed as a negative, self-serving creature. In the beginning of King’s text, Coyote’s dream becomes sentient, and Coyote names his dream animal “dog” (King 2). Most likely because a dog is a lessor form of coyote. However, this dog, gets things backwards, reverses its name, and in the process believes he is in fact GOD. He claims, “I don’t want to be a little god … I want to be a big god!” (King 3).  This sets the stage throughout for how god is viewed, because King uses the Christian perspective of god and religion, and he uses this trope in a negative manner. Most likely this is a commentary on the Residential Schools, and the Christian treatment of First Nation’s children for over 100 years at these schools.


Works Cited

Chester, Blanca. “Green Grass, Running Water: Theorizing the World of the Novel.” Canadian literature 161/162 Summer/Autumn 1999. Web. 07 July 2016.

Conversations That Matter. “Truth & Reconciliation Reading Challenge.” Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube. 25 June 2016. Web 07 July 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. New York: Bantam Books, 1994. Print

McNeilly Purcell, Linda.  “Chekamos River” 02 June 2016. Digital Image.

Robinson, Harry. Living by Stories: A Journey of Landscape and Memory. Compiled and edited by Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talon Books, 2005.

Shultis, Elizabeth.  Subversion and the Storyteller: Exploring Spirituality and the Evolution of Traditional Narratives in Contemporary Native Literature in Canada. MA Thesis. McMaster University, Sept. 2011. Web. 07 July 2016.



A New Framework

Harry with Margaret Holding who taught him to read and write in English Photo taken in Omak Washington 1922

Harry with Margaret Holding who taught him to read and write in English Photo taken in Omak Washington 1922

Wendy Wickwire and Harry Robinson

Wendy Wickwire and Harry Robinson

Lesson 2.3 Assignment 2.6

4] In the last lesson I ask some of you, “what is your first response to Robinson’s story about the white and black twins in context with our course theme of investigating intersections where story and literature meet.” I asked, what do you make of this “stolen piece of paper”? Now that we have contextualized that story with some historical narratives and explored ideas about questions of authenticity and the necessity to “get the story right” – how have your insights into that story changed?

The first consideration that needs to be made, before answering this question, is determining where Harry Robinson’s story about the white and black twins, from Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory fits into the literary canon.  When I first read the stories, I felt they neatly fell into the genre of postcolonial literature. My first reaction was that the story was influenced by colonization. This seemed to be the case, because one of the twins is white, and is sent across the water to become the forefathers of the English inhabitants. Additionally, I felt that the story itself was a parallel to the events that occurred as a result of colonization. When I first read the story, I focused more on how the Europeans used written language and laws to justify their actions both during and after colonization. However, after reading Thomas King’s analysis of First Nation’s literature from his article, “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial”, I reconsidered my original position (King).

King refuses to accept the term postcolonial as a description for Native literature, and instead provides several alternatives. Two options that more accurately describe Robinson’s genre, are polemical and interfusional literature. Polemical is “literature either in a Native language or in English … that concerns itself with the clash of Native and non-Native cultures or with the championing of Native values over non-Native values” (King 186). Interfusional is “Native literature that is a blending of oral literature and written literature” (King 186).

Before considering whether Robinson’s work is either polemical or interfusional literature, I want to examine the term, postcolonial literature. According to King, after he breaks down the assumptions that go into postcolonial literature, he concludes it is “literature produced by Native people sometime after colonization, a literature that arises in large part out of the experience that is colonization (King 184). Brians, in his article “Postcolonial Literature”: Problems with the Term, concurs, “[t]aken literally, the term “postcolonial literature’ would seem to label literature written by people living in countries formerly colonized by other nations” (Brians).  However, Brians adds to this, and once again concurs with King, when he writes, “there are many problems with this definition” (Brians). From here, Brians raises several good points. One is that literature written by peoples who have not received independence from the colonizers, should be considered “’postcolonization’ literature”.  Another important point he raises is that even using the term postcolonial, when referring to literature, is “Eurocentric”, because “it singles out the colonial experience as the most important fact about the countries involved” (Brians).  Click here to read the entire article (Brians).

King’s description of polemical is a sound depiction of Robinson’s story, and provides the proper condition to absorb Robinson’s words.  Now when I read Robinson’s stories, I look at it from a different point of view. Instead of only seeing the stolen paper as a parallel to the acts committed by the Newcomers, I can also consider the story from the point of view of the First Nations peoples. Taking into consideration Brians comment about Eurocentric, I can move my view to the centre and see the story on an level playing field.  Instead of privileging “one culture over another” (King 185), I can look at the story from the point of view that “Chapter 1 of the story”, is the same chapter of the same story for both First Nations people of Canada as well as Europeans (Asch 36). I can understand that Robinson’s story is a retelling of this first chapter, and it affects both parties. Conversely, I can see that the time of colonization was “chapter 15” for both Newcomer as well as Native (Asch 37). What this means is that both the Europeans and the Natives stories began long before colonization, and the act of colonization was for both a part of their separate and joint histories.

Schorcht writes in her article, “The Storied World of Harry: Emerging Dialogues”, that “Robinson incorporates European elements and content into his stories in ways that reflect the spirit and worldview of an Okanagan storyteller” (Schorcht 147). Her discourse supports the position that Robinson’s writing is in fact closer to King’s term of polemical than it is to the term postcolonial. Schorcht writes, “Robinson makes a clear distinction between his own stories, which have an underlying Okanagan context and history, and stories that have European sources” (156). (Click here for the full article (Schorcht).)

King’s description of interfusional literature also works with Robinson’s story.  This story, as well as others that Robinson tells, bridges oral storytelling with written literature. Robinson’s story is a fusion, because although the story is written in English, it remains in the oral tradition through it’s “patterns, metaphors, structures as well as the themes and characters” (King 186). Robinson’s voice can be heard in the written words, and King suggests the stories work best when read aloud.

Regardless of whether or not Robinson’s story falls under the genre of polemical or interfusional, it is clear to me that postcolonial will not do. A new framework is required that will provide a platform for mutual understanding. When reading Robinson’s stories about the twins, the meaning is clearer, and easier to understand when the reader (or listener) hears the words from a point of view that takes both twin’s position into consideration.


Works Cited

Asch, Michael. “Canadian Sovereignty and Universal History.” Storied Communities: Narratives of Contact and Arrival in Constituting Political Community. Ed. Rebecca Johnson, and Jeremy Webber Hester Lessard. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2011. 29 – 39. Print.

Brians, Paul. “Postcolonial Literature”: Problems with the Term. Washington State University. n.p. 7 Aug 1998 Web. 26 June 2016.

“Harry Robinson with Margaret Holding, who taught him to read and write in English”. 9 March 2016. Digital Image of Photo taken in Omak, Washington, 1922. BC Book Look. Web. 26 June 2016.

King, Thomas. “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial.” Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism. Peterbough, ON: Broadview, 2004. 183- 190. Handout.

Robinson, Harry. Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory. Ed. Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005. Print.

Schorcht, Blanca. “The Storied World of Harry: Emerging Dialogues”. BC Studies, no 135, (Autumn 2002). 145-162. Web 29 June 2016.  http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/viewFile/1640/1685

“Wendy Wickwire and Harry Robinson”. 9 March 2016. Digital Image of Photo taken in Omak, Washington, 1922. BC Book Look. Web. 26 June 2016.


The Underlying Meaning Behind the Stolen Document

Lesson 2.2 – Assignment 2.4

Question 5.

“If Europeans were not from the land of the dead, or the sky, alternative explanations which were consistent with indigenous cosmologies quickly developed” (“First Contact” 43). Robinson gives us one of those alternative explanations in his stories about how Coyote’s twin brother stole the “written document” and when he denied stealing the paper, he was “banished to a distant land across a large body of water” (9). We are going to return to this story, but for now – what is your first response to this story? In context with our course theme of investigating intersections where story and literature meet, what do you make of this stolen piece of paper? This is an open-ended question and you should feel free to explore your first thoughts.

Leaping Coyote with Shadow in the Night Sky Rendered in Northwest Coast Native StyleL

Leaping Coyote with Shadow in the Night Sky Rendered in Northwest Coast Native Style.

Robinson’s twins story is a key that can help unlock the door of understanding. When I first read Wendy Wickwire’s account of Harry Robinson’s story about first contact, I had several thoughts (Robinson 9 – 10).

First I could see the blending of two ways of thinking. This is an oral story about a written document, and as a result gives both oral and written literature equal weight. This story in effect creates an intersection between two different ways of being.

Next, I thought the story totally makes sense, because Europeans and their decedents, used the law to cheat the Native Peoples out of their land, and out of the agreements that were made with them This was done using written reports and written documents. According to the governments of Canada and the U.S., these written documents held more weight, and validated the decisions made by the conquering Europeans as well as the subsequent actions of the governments that followed. I found an interesting conference report from the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council that explores the effect of how the colonial doctrine of discovery is used to substantiate the continued subjugation of Indigenous sovereignties around the world. This report uses Harry Robertson’s story, and repeats the tale about the twins showing how the North American lands were assigned (Doctrine 16). In this report, Dr. Ignace states, “The Secwepemc word for paper, before paper, also meant rights and laws” (Doctrine 21).   (The Secwepemc People are a Nation of 17 bands, and they occupy the Shuswup area in British Columbia. Click here for more information about the Secwepemc People (“Our Story”).) This conference report echoes my first impressions about this story that colonial power puts into law the rules that gave the colonizers “a tool to strip them [Native Peoples] of their rights” (Doctrine 3).

Next, I wondered how this story fit in with other contact stories. One story I found was the oral story from Haida Gwaii of Raven and the first men; click here to see a video of the telling of this story (Gibb). In this story Raven encounters supernatural beings. However, when the first men appear, there is no mention of anyone other than the Haida. This fits right into what Lutz said in his article: “When we look at a large number of these accounts, [contact stories] we see a wide variety of stories, not surprising given the amazing diversity of indigenous cultures on the west coast. But … [e]uropeans are shown as associated with the spirit world” (“First” 36).  Robinson’s story is similar in many ways to the Haida version, yet it is also different. Robinson’s version delves into the spiritual, because it explains the beginnings of both First Nations as well as Europeans. His story connects each group to the other, and shows where each culture places value. “Indian’s power was located in their hearts and heads; for whites, it was located on paper” (Robinson 16).  This statement fits in with European traditions of literature, because what is written is given value. This follows into how Western society functions, because value is given to the printed words and written laws.

Finally, I wondered if I was even entitled to hear this story. While I was reading Harry Robinson’s story about first contact (Robinson 9-10), I thought about David Peat’s book, Blackfoot Physics. In Peat’s book, I recalled reading: “[s]ome Elders teach that the [origin] stories are sacred and must never be passed on to outsiders” (Peat 87). I also found this quote from First nations Pedagogy Online, “[s]tories can vary from the sacred to the historical”, and “[s]ome are ‘owned’ by certain clans or families and can only be told by a member of that group” (“Storytelling”).  As a result, I felt almost guilty reading Robinson’s story. However, Robinson wanted his stories to be passed on, and had created “English versions of his stories to audio tape so that they could carry on without him” (Robinson 29 -30). Robinson knew, as Peat wrote in his book that the Elders had acknowledged, “the time has come to speak openly and share their knowledge” (Peat 87).  Robinson wanted Wickwire’s assistance in transmuting his oral stories into written form, and “was very pleased with the book” once the first book was completed (Robinson 21). Living by stories was important to Robinson, and he knew with his death, his stories would die too, unless they were reproduced in written English. Like the story of the twins that melds together European and First Nations culture, Robinson’s stories in print form, also melds together these two cultures.

I felt that Robinson’s story about the twins is important, because it speaks directly to the history of contact between Europeans and Native Americans. The story helps explain the period of conquest and exploitation. Robinson’s story turns the table on the European beliefs and their propaganda, and shows the truth of what actually occurred. The many native peoples of North America have been told (by the Europeans invaders) that they have no real history, because it has not been recorded anywhere, therefore, it does not exist. Instead the Europeans maintained that the natives were savages, because they did not have a written history, and as such are not a distinct people; therefore, they have no rights under the law. The Europeans maintained, that these oral stories, which were told by the Elders, were from memory, and were simply myth and fantasy. Robinson’s story turns this around, and instead validates the Native position, and invalidates the conquerors. The use of twins, sets up the potential for the use of dichotomies, including two different ways of life.


Works Cited

Doctrine of Discovery. Shuswap Nation. 30 Nov. 2012. Shuswapnation.org. Web. 16 June 2016.

Gibbs, Jeffrey. “Raven and the First Men”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 25 Jan. 2011. Web. 16 June 2016.

Lutz, John. “Contact Over and Over Again.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indignenous- European Contact. Ed. Lutz. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2007. 1-15. Print.

“First Contact as a Spiritual Performance: Aboriginal — Non-Aboriginal Encounters on the North American West Coast.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indigenous-European Contact. Ed. Lutz. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2007. 30-45. Print.

“Our Story”. Secwepemc Cultural Education Society. n.d. Secwepemc.org. Web. 16 June 2016.

Peat, David. Blackfoot Physics. York Beach, ME: Weiser Books, 2002. Print.

Robinson, Harry. Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory. Compiled and edited by Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talon Books2005. (1-30)

“Storytelling”. First nations Pedagogy Online. Firstnationspedagony.com. n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.

Thompson, Jeffrey. Leaping Coyote with shadow in the night sky rendered in Northwest Coast Native Style. n.d. Vector. 123rf.com Web. 15 June 2016.



Stories of Home

Lesson 2.1 – Assignment 2.3



The stories of home, written by my fellow students, were illuminating. As I wrote my story, and then read through each of my classmate’s stories, I noticed there were many similarities. I also found that each story was unique. We all travel our own journey through life, and every one of us has a different experience. The stories we shared are as similar, and as different, as Whistler is to Vancouver.


The three blogs that resonated the most with me were: Cam Bullen Janine Flemings, and Julia Ullrich. Some commonalities that I found included: Feeling safe, blending in, belonging, speaking a common language, labels that are placed on us, and the stories we are told.



Home is where we feel safe. That includes both our physical safety, as well as the safety to express our true selves. In order to have the room for each of us to grow as individuals, we need to be able to experience who we are. In that way we can truly learn and grow. But first we need to be in an environment where we are safe. Cam has noticed, after living in numerous different countries and environments, that security is an intrical component in what constitutes home. If fear exists, then it is not home.

Often we feel we need to blend in, or else we will not fit in. However, if you capitulate on who you really are, just to fit in, then you are sacrificing your soul. You are not being true to yourself. Home is where you do not need to blend in, because you are accepted, with your faults and with your gifts.  It is harmful when we try to be something we are not. Home is where we do not need to be ashamed, because we are celebrated. Janine shared her story about the hostile environment she experienced when she moved to New Fairfield, Connecticut. When there, she was told she did not belong, and after awhile she started to believe it, because (as she noted) this happens when we hear the same story again and again. This comment resonated with me, because I too have experienced this – as I believe all of us have in one form or another. Janine makes an important and relevant connection between the stories that we are told about ourselves, and the impact they have on our lives. There is also a scientific reason that this is true. In this article from Frontiers in Psychology, the authors discourse centres around a study that was done (Horst). The study shows how repetition is tied in directly to learning. Although the article focuses on language development, the key point is valid. When a child, or a person, hears the same thing over and over, they encode what is heard.

Belonging is important. When we belong to a family or a community, we feel connected, because we are included. Belonging also creates a feeling of safety. When we belong, we know the people around us care for us, and will protect us. As we would for them.  When we are in situations where we are excluded, and treated as an outsider, then we feel alone and isolated – because we are alone and isolated. In Julie’s story, she felt home was where she was loved, and where she belonged. For her, home is in her parent’s house in White Rock where the walls themselves breath out love and call her name.

Speaking a common language is important. Each of us needs to be heard, but first we need to be understood. This can only happen when the person that we are communicating with is open to hearing what we are saying. Speaking a common language is not the language you use, it is the willingness for each side to really hear what the other is saying. 

The labels that are put on us influence and mould us. Brenna Hicks in her website the Kid Counselor, discusses the dangers of using labels,  “[c]hildren develop and define their sense of self by processing what others tell them about who they are” (Hicks). We carry those labels with us where ever we go, and those labels create our stories. Stories that are told to us, or stories that we tell our selves. When you are told the same story over and over, you start to believe it. We live our stories, and if we change our stories we change our lives.

For me, all of these factors are part of what creates the environment of home.  Home is not necessarily a place, but instead is a place of mind. Home is where you connect with the ones you love.


Works Cited:

Hicks, Brenna. “The Problem with Labelling.” The Kid Counselor. 30 Jan. 2008. Web. 10 June 2016.

Horst, Jessica S., Kelly L. Parsons, and Natasha M. Bryan. “Get the Story Straight: Contextual Repetition Promotes Word Learning from Storybooks.”Frontiers in Psychology 2 (2011): 17. PMC. Web. 10 June 2016.

Mcneilly Purcell, Linda. “Vancouver”. 15 Sept. 2015. Digital Image.

— “Whistler”. 01 June 2016. Digital Image.


Home is Where Your Heart Is



Lesson 2.1 – Assignment 2:2

Home is where my loved ones live. Home is where I, and my loved ones, feel safe. But where does the idea of home come from?

The words of the Nigerian story teller Ben Okri, as quoted by Thomas King in The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative: “One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, or we are also living the stories we planted – knowingly or unknowingly – in ourselves.  We live stories that either give our lives meaning our negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives” (153).

For me this sums up the story of our lives. Each of us has a story, and for each of us, our stories are created from a number of different influences. But most importantly, it is the stories we live by that make our lives and create our sense of home.

I feel that my story has been compiled by a number of influences. First and foremost there is the impact my family  had on me as I grew up, but other factors helped to form me, and helped me determine what home means to me. These include the books that I read, the TV shows and movies that I watched growing up, as well as the family I created once I married and had children of my own, my community, and my spiritual centre.

I grew up in a family where my mom wore rose coloured glasses, and only saw what she wanted to see. As a result she always looked on the positive side of life. She was a good person. My mom’s mother passed from leukemia when my mom was 16 years old, but to this day my mom says she feels the presence of her mother at her side watching over her and her loved ones. My mom taught me right from wrong. She instilled in me the Golden Rule; I learned at an early age to be compassionate towards to other people, and to live my life always with the view of treating other people how I wanted to be treated. In return, when I raised my own three boys, I taught them this same way of experiencing life. But first my grandmother had taught these same principles to my mom.

My dad was a truck driver, and when he wasn’t driving, he was in the bar drinking with his friends. He came from a large family, and had 11 siblings. His father committed suicide when my dad was 5 years old. His mother had a difficult time trying to raise 12 children on her own, and ended up putting my dad into foster care when he was 8 years old. While in foster care, he was treated more like a servant than a child, and was often beaten with a rubber hose. When my dad was 12 years old he ran away, and lived on the streets. I remember him saying, “The only nutrients I received came from the fruit in the candy bars I ate.” When he was 14 he joined the Navy, and as he always said, “It saved my life.”  My dad was a hard worker. I always had a roof over my head, and food to eat. I had two older brothers, and I had to fight for the right to be heard inside this male dominated family.

No one in my family had graduated from high-school, never mind college. So if my brothers or I wanted to go to post-secondary school, it was up to us to figure out how. I never believed I could go to university and get a degree. Instead I worked towards my Certified General Accountant certification. At the time it was not a requirement to have a degree, and the CGA designation was obtained by taking one course per semester while working full time. After working as an accountant for many years, and after starting, growing, and selling a software company (with my husband) called Top Producer Systems, I felt it was time for a change. Because my passion is books, and I love reading and writing about books, I started a book review blog, under the pen name of Linda Wright, called Books-TreasureorTrash.com. After reviewing numerous books, I decided to return to school and study literature analysis. At first I took only one course, at Langara College, but I had an encouraging and supportive teacher, and now I am in the process of completing the fourth year of my Bachelors of Arts degree with a Major in English Literature and a Minor in Creative Writing.

While I was growing up, religion was a dirty word in my family, and I never stepped inside a church until I was in my mid-twenties. A few months after I met the man I would eventually marry, and who would be the father of my three boys, he took me to Unity Spiritual Centre on Oak Street. I was blown away. I did not think it was possible for a church to be open and non-dogmatic. I did not think it was possible for a church to actually teach what I intrinsically believed. Although I had never gone to church, I always believed in a higher power, and I always felt a connection to the infinite. Now I had found my spiritual home, and a spiritual partner to share my life.

As Thomas King says in his book, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are” (92).

After reading this article about Indian Posse co-founder Richard Wolfe, who spent half of his life in prison, and much of it ‘in the hole’, I can’t help but wonder if he had had a different view of home, and if his stories growing up had been more positive, that his life might have turned out better (Friesen).

In this video between Stu McNish and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, the Chief discusses the benefits Canada will reap when the gap in education, opportunity, and living standards of indigenous peoples is closed. The issues that Chief Bellegrade raises ties in directly to the influence the community has on our stories. By closing the gap, the community accepts and includes First Nations individuals, and in the process lives change for the better.

My story, Richard Wolfe’s story, and the numerous stories shared by Chief Bellegarde all reinforce how each person’s journey is impacted by their home environment. There are many different cultures, and each places a different value on what is considered home. But I believe that for all of us, home is where you connect with the ones you love.



Works Cited

Evans, Blanche. “What Top Producer Brings to Homestore’s Party”. Realtytimes.com. 10 Sept. Web. 06 June 2016. 2000

Friesen, Joe. “Dispatches from an indefinite period in isolation.” The Globe and Mail. TheGlobeandMail.com. 05 June 2016. Web. 05 June 2016.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2003. Print.

McNeilly Purcell, Linda. “Love.” 2010. Digital Image.

McNish, Stu. “Bellegarde urges Canada to close the gap for First Nations.” Conversations That Matter. The Vancouver Sun. 23 March 2016. Web. 06 June 2016.

Wright, Linda. Books-TreasureorTrash.com. 24 Feb. 2010. Web 06 June 2016. http:books-treasureortrash.com/


How Evil Came Into The World

Lesson 1.3 – Assignment 1:5

This is my story about how evil came into the world. I invite you to listen to to this audio recording of me telling my story while you read the words.

click here for mobile access to audio of How Evil Came Into the World

I have a story to tell you…

A long, long time ago the world had only one little house. This small house had two rooms.

One room faced east. It had a big window overlooking a lush valley where the sun always shined.

The other room faced west. It had a small door that opened out onto a balcony which overlooked a vast ocean covered by swirling grey mist.

Birds could be seen chasing each other in the clear blue sky above the valley. Zigzagging down the sides of the vale were many different trees, some yellow, some green, and a few were pink.

Beneath the tumultuous haze, the surf crashed with a steady beat, and each swell called out as it hit the shore “there’s more” … “there’s more” … “there’s more” … Seagulls dive bombed into the waves, and came up flapping their wings as they soared into the roiling clouds.

Since time began a girl and a boy lived in the house.

The girl spent hours looking out her window. In the early morning, just after the sun had risen, and was shining down upon the valley, she would laugh as she watched elk, foxes, and moose washing their faces in the river.

The boy studied the vast open space beyond his balcony. Every evening, as the sun was setting, a golden path appeared across the surface of the sea, and called out to him. Depending on the mist, the path might be clear and straight, or hidden and barely seen, but he always knew it was there.

They both knew what they knew.

But they didn’t know what they didn’t know.

They knew they had each other.

They knew every inch of the valley including the names of all the animals and all the birds who came to play.

They knew all the secrets the trees held, and the mystery of day and night.

But they didn’t know what was beyond the ocean.

They didn’t know what was outside their valley.

The girl loved watching the little river, which was not much bigger than a stream, as it meandered between granite rocks and a rainbow of wildflowers. She couldn’t understand why the boy wanted to know what was out beyond the sea.

The boy’s yearning for something different grew stronger and more desperate. He wasn’t satisfied with frolicking birds, or playing with the flora or fauna within their valley. He desired to see where the golden path lead. He needed to know what was hidden at the ends of the world.

message in a bottle 3

Message in a Bottle

One gloomy, rainy day when he was wishing for something, but he didn’t know what, he saw a curious thing. A new thing, something he had never seen before. He saw an object floating and shimmering in the waves.

For the first time in a long time, he smiled and laughed. He grabbed the girl’s hand and pulled her down the stairs. He dragged her towards the end of the beach, as he pointed with his other hand towards the new and the unknown.

His heart pounded as he reached down to pick up the bottle, but the girl warned him not to touch it. She told him it didn’t belong. She tried to pick it up and throw it into the ocean, so it could return to where it had come, but he pushed her hand away.

He grabbed the bottle and lifted it. He examined the strange and exotic object. Shaking the bottle he could hear liquid splashing around. He uncorked it, and peered inside. The most wonderful aroma wafted out. It smelled like lavender and chocolate. For just a second a different smell escaped – a sour smell of rot and decay. But it quickly disappeared, and the luscious aroma returned.

The elixir smelled intoxicating. He lifted the bottle to his lips, and took a long drink. Twitching and moaning he fell to the ground.  His legs flailed and his fists beat the sand. He had a vision. In it, a man came to him and said, “I have a story to tell you”. The man told him about a world full of broken concrete, and crying children. The boy could see himself standing in a place filled with blood and body parts strewn around. He even saw his sweet companion lying still and broken with vacant eyes.

The boy gasped, and sat up. Looking first one direction and then another, he breathed out when he saw that the man was gone. He found himself back on the beach. The girl sat beside him, holding his hand. When he looked at her the terrible vision returned, and all he saw were her dead eyes. The vision receded when she hugged him, but it didn’t completely disappear. For the first time in his life he was afraid.

He wanted to put the liquid back into the bottle. He wanted to unknow all that death and destruction. He wanted to unsee all those horrible images. But it was too late. He now knew. He knew those evil things were out there, and he knew those heinous things were inside him.

Crying, the girl shook his shoulder, and begged him to tell her what had happened. He did. He told her everything he heard, saw, and felt. Now she knew too.

Once a story is experienced, it becomes a part of you.

Once a story is told, it cannot be unsaid, because now it has been released into the world.

Be careful of the stories you tell yourself and others. But most especially, be careful of what stories you listen to, because they create your world.


My experience of what I discovered about story telling:

In this assignment we were to read Thomas King’s version of Leslie Silko’s story, from her book Ceremony; it is a story about how evil first came into the world (King 9 -10). I found a WordPress website, The Abysmal: Nothing’s Better, which discusses Thomas King‘s The Truth About Stories : a Native Narrative from the Massey Lecture Series, and includes links to the lectures. In this website, there is a reprint of Leslie Silko’s story from Ceremony, in its entirety.

I memorized, and told my story to several of my friends, and all of my family. I found that each time I told my story, it changed in subtle ways from the previous version, yet the overall story and meaning remained the same.  Often I found it difficult to tell my story from beginning to end without interruption. I received feedback from everyone I told my story to, and I found that different people had different reactions, but almost everyone felt the story had a moral to it. Several people felt it was an archetypal story, similar in many ways to Adam and Eve combined with Pandora’s Box.

For myself I found the experience of telling the story very different from having my audience read the story. When you hand your story off, the person takes it and reads it. This makes it a solitary event. First you are alone when you write it, and then they are alone when they read. However, when you tell someone your story, it becomes a social event, and everyone in the group becomes a participant and is connected through the story. The other factor that makes telling a story to an audience very different from having them read it, is the very act of storytelling. When the words are read, they are as they are written. However, when the words are spoken, a whole slew of additional factors influence the meaning and the experience. Even something as simple as what words are emphasized can drastically change the meaning. This link from Factinator  gives examples of how the meaning of a sentence can drastically change depending on where the emphasis or where the punctuation is placed. Through the process of writing this story, and reciting it for an audience, I came to realize the importance of language itself. It is through language that each of us creates our reality, and as a result, it really is true that the stories we hear, even if they are the stories we tell ourselves, create our world.


Works cited:

Khawaja, Zainab. “‘I Never Said She Stole My Money’ Has 7 Different Meanings”. Factinator. 28 Feb 2014. Web. 30 May 2016.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. CBC Massey Lectures. 2003.  Lecture.

The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2003. Print.

Marloeshi. Message in a Bottle. n.d. Digital Image. Deviant Art. Web. 26 May 2016

The Abysmal: Nothing’s Better. “The Truth About Stories”. WordPress. 02 July 2012. Web. 30 May 2016.

Weebly. “Musical and Literary Archetypes” Weebly. n.d. Web 30 May 2016.



The Reimagining of Them and Us

Lesson 1.2 – Assignment 1:3 In response to #6: Write a summary of three significant points that you find most interesting in the final chapter of If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories?

If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground is the title of Chamberlin’s book. This title sets the stage, because the text centres on the power and impact of stories. Stories connect us with our past, with each other, and with universal truths. Story telling is an important skill, because it is how we make connections.  This article from Psychology Today  is about the power of storytelling.  Chamberlin uses stories, both his own and others, to make his point throughout the text – there exists a Them and Us mentality that includes a separateness with clearly established borders. Additionally, he addresses the need for each side to find common ground with the other.

The final chapter of this book goes full circle, and reinforces the point he makes in the first chapter when he writes the “dream of a common culture, celebrating common meanings and values, with ceremonies that confirm a common purpose” is not possible without contraction, because “the real power of ceremony is not in achieving peace… but in embracing contraction” (25). The last chapter supports this message through Chamberlin’s proposal for “ceremonies of belief” that are at their centre, contradictory (239-40). “The notion of contradictory truths” is looking at something from two points of view (221). Things can be both true and not true at the same time, as in “a setting sun” on a flat horizon versus “a round earth” that encircles the sun (221). The way to reconcile these contradictions is through a melding of reality with the imagination. Having the ability to imagine the world though another’s eyes, and see things with a new perception. This too has to do with borders, but it is with breaking down the borders, looking beyond the stories we tell ourselves, and experiencing reality from a new perspective.  In the last chapter, “Ceremonies” (219) he writes that through shared ceremonies a common ground can be found. This is possible when both sides come together, and understand each other’s stories through “ceremonies of belief” (222).

Chamberlin suggests the solution ends with land title, and I felt this was the most important point he makes in the book.  He proposes changing the “underlying title back to aboriginal title” (229). In doing so, he says that things would stay the same, but yet they would not stay the same, because “[o]ur understanding of the land would change. Our understanding of ourselves would change. Our understanding of aboriginal peoples would change” (231). He writes that this change in land title “would finally provide a constitutional ceremony of belief in the humanity of aboriginal peoples in the Americas” (231).  It is a radical, yet interesting proposal that he makes. This solution, if possible to carry out, would address many of the wrongs done to our First Nations communities. It would go a long way in creating common ground for all peoples living in Canada. But before we could begin this process, “we need to find a ceremony that will sanctify the land for everyone who lives on it” (227). We would also need to use imagination, while melding each side’s past, present, and future realities together.


Image 16 of 19

Lastly, he concludes that the common ground necessary to bridge the distance between Them and Us is not something concrete, but instead is a “state of mind” (239). It is understanding that there are many different truths, and just because one is different from another, it does not make it wrong. Instead if each side looked at truth as having “to do with ceremony, not evidence”, this would open up understanding, because there are many different truths, and many different realities (147). Pink Floyd released the song Us and Them as a single on February 4, 1974 in protest of the Vietnam War, and the song is searching for meaning in the futility of conflict. It addresses how people treat each other, both collectively and individually. In many ways this song ties into Chamberlin’s suggestion in the final chapter of this book, where he leads the reader to a reimagining of Them and Us.


Works cited

Chamberlin, Edward J. If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground. Toronto: Knopf, 2003. Print

Copeland, Scott. Image 16 of 19. N.D. Print of High Quality Giclee Process. Northwestcoastindianart.net. Web. 20 May 2016.

Pink Floyd. “Us and Them.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 20 Sep 2008. Web. 20 May 2016.

Rutledge, Pamela B. “The Psychological Power of Storytelling”. Psychology Today. 16 Jun 2011. Web. 20 May 2016.



Lesson 1.1 – Assignment 1:1


Trees that have Fallen in a Pine Tree Forest

My Bench

Hi everyone, I’m Linda and I would like to welcome you to my tree bench. Please grab a virtual seat and let’s get to know each other. I look forward to sharing ideas and stories with the ENGL 470 summer 2016 group. I am excited to read stories about Canada from different perspectives, because I have come to realize the importance of storytelling. At Langara I took the course – Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and Contemporary Science. There I came to realize that language is important in Aboriginal science and culture, because it is part of the foundation of reality. A fascinating perspective can be found in Ferguson.




My Roots

My grandmother was part Cree, part French, and definitely all Canadian, but I never had the opportunity to learn her story. Not only did she live in Winnipeg, while I grew up in Vancouver, but she passed when I was a little girl. I have always felt that part of my history is missing, and for that reason I have been attracted to storytelling. For as long as I can remember I have loved to read. But beyond that, I yearn to know my history, both my aboriginal beginnings, as well as my European beginnings. This is one reason why I was attracted to, and am excited about this course.




My Bark/Trunk

Looking at me from the outside, you will see that I am a fourth year English Literature Major with a Minor in Creative Writing at UBC. I am also a Chartered Professional Accountant, but I love reading and writing about books, and for that reason I created a book review blog at Books-TreasureOrTrash.com. I love stories, and in Aboriginal culture, stories are used to document history and transfer knowledge. Song, sound, and vibration are “the collective agreement of the People—not as myth or metaphor, but as reality” (Ferguson 28).



Flowering Trees in the Spring are Always Eye-catching View

My Branches

I hope to reach out beyond my current understanding, and expand my appreciation of what the Canadian literary canon entails. I am looking forward to the conference portion of the course so I, along with my classmates, can add our voices to the discussion. In Aboriginal beliefs, verbal story telling reflects, explains, and helps create the world. Stories help to explain the present and the past. But going beyond Aboriginal stories, it is important to consider the interchange and variances between European and Indigenous traditions of storytelling.



Bright Red Organic Apples on a Tree Branch

My Fruit


Trees are strong, steady, and reliable. Trees are a metaphor for life, and First Nations Artist, Donald Chrétien, has created a beautiful rendition of the Tree of Life.  I consider myself an apple tree, because apples are delicious, nutritious, and versatile. What kind of tree tells your story?



Linda 280 x 350 good

Linda Purcell


Apple Blossoms

Works Cited:

Chretien, Donald. Tree of Life. n.d. Acrylic on Canvas. Creativehouse.com

Ferguson, Elizabeth. “Einstein, Sacred Science and Quantum Leaps: A Comparative Analysis of Western Science, Native Science and Quantum Physics Paradigm.” Lethbridge, Alta.: University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Arts and Science, (2005). Web. 11 May 2016.

Luz, Ninette. Bright Red Organic Apples on a Tree Branch. [Photo of apples] n.d. Digital Image. 123RF .  Web. 11 May 2016.

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