By Karen-Luz Sison
“Beaver is an acquired taste. If it’s really, really old, it tastes exactly like what it eats,” 15-year-old Adrian Dent told the audience as he talked about his first time trapping a beaver.
Dent was one of four Indigenous storytellers invited to speak in the live show and recording of Stories From the Land, an independently-produced podcast featuring stories told by Indigenous people in Canada.
The show was brought to Carleton University on Dec. 5 by the Carleton University Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education and as part of the podcast’s ongoing national tour.
Produced by Aboriginal comic Ryan McMahon, the podcast received the first ever Reconciliation Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts this year. The podcast has had over 35,000 downloads so far and is in the process of producing its second season, according to its website.
The night featured musical performances, book readings, and stories from members of the Indigenous community in Ottawa.
Deborah Kigjugalik Webster, an Inuk author, read two stories focused on the Inuit community’s relationship with animals, one being her newly-published children’s book Akilak’s Adventure.
Dent shared stories from his experiences as a hunter, getting much laughter from the crowd.
Geraldine King, an Ojibway author, read excerpts of Indigenous erotica and poetry.
“Love is a very important part of resurgence against settler-colonialism,” King told the audience.
Larissa Desrosiers, a third-year Carleton music student, performed two songs she had written and read a spoken word piece. She said she could really “feel the emotion and the energy in the room.”
Desrosiers also spoke about the importance of representation of Indigenous communities as a whole.
“These events are important because they’re literally our stories, sometimes our livelihood,” Desrosiers said. “I’ve never heard some of the stories in my life.”
McMahon said it is important to create a platform for Indigenous storytelling.
“Storytelling . . . [gives] us that comfortable space for us to be together,” he said. “We can all weave a story. We can all weave a tale.”
He said current plans for the podcast are to create an app and develop a school curriculum to educate students about Indigenous stories.
Alana Walker, a third-year communications student and event attendee, said she has always been interested in Indigenous issues and reconciliation.
“This [show] was a way of me getting to see how they perform through art, public speaking, singing, but also stories of how they just live out their daily life as 21st century human beings in Canada,” Walker said. “It made me laugh, and it made me think really hard about what’s important.”
McMahon said the main takeaway from the show is a better understanding of the Indigenous worldview.
“Maybe you understand our past, present, and future a little bit more,” he said.
At the end of the night, McMahon told the audience that “this is what reconciliation looks like for us: taking back our stories.”
The next show of the Stories From the Land national tour will be in Sudbury, Ont. on Dec. 13.