Annual school production focuses on Indigenous storytelling
- NC Raine | April 18, 2019
Students in Saskatoon are being treated to a special play that explores storytelling and history of our land through personal narratives.
The played, titled otâcimow (meaning ‘storyteller’), is part of the Saskatoon Public Schools’ annual Indigenous Ensemble, which uses song, dance, storytelling, and traditional arts to educate students and the public about First Nation and Metis culture and history.
This year’s play was written by Mika Lafond, who drew from lessons and stories she received from her grandmother, which Lafond ultimately put into this play.
“I wanted to get across to the students that by listening to stories, you can learn a lot about your history and culture,” Lafond told Eagle Feather News.
“It’s a different kind of experience, when you hear a story. There’s an interaction that happens between the performers and the audience, and I think that’s more related to how our culture worked prior to writing books. I think it’s a more authentic way to hear the stories,” she said.
The Indigenous ensemble will perform otâcimow for both elementary and high school students, approximately 2,000 students in total, over several performances on April 15 and 16.
Lafond, who previously worked as a high school teacher, is excited to work with students once again and hopes her play helps them understand the connection between place and identity.
“I want the students to understand how everything is connected – the land, ceremonies, dances, and culture – in who we are. I think by including Metis and Indigenous dances, it shows that we’re all related and we all need the land to survive,” she said.
The play is a true collaboration of high school students across Saskatoon, with students from Aden Bowman, Bedford Road, Centennial, Evan Hardy, Mount Royal, Nutana, Royal West, Tommy Douglas, and Walter Murray participating in the production.
Lafond understands the significance of large public production showcasing Indigenous culture and history.
“There’s a place in the script where it talks about how our stories, ceremonies, and our whole culture was illegal at one time. How it survived was by our leaders holding on to the stories and telling them in secret,” said Lafond. “Now that it’s not illegal anymore, we’re able to dance on stage to showcase our culture and share these stories.”