Understanding What Life is About – Storytelling with Tom McCallum

Tom McCallum (White Standing Buffalo), Métis Elder and storyteller, explains that stories are a history of our people from many lifetimes and that stories are real. In English, with some Cree, he shares 6 entertaining stories which have been animated. Through his engaging stories Tom helps us understand the complex uses of storytelling as community activities that educate, entertain, and increase community bonds. He also demonstrates how creation stories and Wasakechak tales teach about our relationship to the natural world.

Tom shares how storytelling connects the past with today and how it may impact the future. He tells the story of falling through the ice as a child and when he was starting to sink he saw a trembling aspen tree – the tree used in the Sundance ceremony. His life was saved by this tree to which, as an adult, he gave thanks at a Sundance. In another sequence, Tom shares the story of a very slippery night in a sleigh behind a horse. The horse is slipping and ends up skating on the ice. Tom also tells the story of birch bark canoeing with his parents and the voice of water, wind, bulrushes, and wood on the birchbark canoe, and paddles moving through the water. That is Indigenous language that is written into his psyche. Tom further shares Cree creation stories –Wasakechak stories about the creation of mountains, the change of a swan, creation of sturgeon, as well as the story of birds getting their song. The animated sequences make Tom’s entertaining stories come to life through artist-drawn images that are animated.

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