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.

McNeilly Purcell, Linda. Bark. 15 Feb. 2016. Digital Image.

Pixphoto. Trees that Have Fallen in the Pine Tree Forest [photo of tree bench]. n.d. Digital Image. 123RF . Web. 11 May 2016.

Purcell, Randy. Linda Purcell. 15 Jan. 2014. Digital Image.

Rosu, Orlando. Fruiter [Photo of roots]. n.d. Digital Image. 123RF . Web. 11 May 2016

Sauletas. Flowering Trees in Garden are Always Eye-catching View in Spring. [Photo of apple tree] n.d. Digital Image. 123RF . Web. 11 May 2016.

Septembersun. Apple Blossoms. [Photo of apple blossoms]. n.d. Digital Image. 123RF . Web. 11 May 2016.