Stories are the miracle of spirit + journey. Stories are a vehicle we can hop on and ride: from, to, away. Stories are the way we escape, the way we arrive, the map we follow, the destination we cheer. Stories are immortal. And therefore, so are we.
As Indigenous people, our history is a collection of tales we fold carefully and walk with, understanding the importance of seeing exactly where we’ve been. Our future is a collection of stories tuck carefully into our pockets, each one of us, the older curating the younger’s stash. We cannot forget the old tales, and equally, we cannot stop being the author of the new stories.
There is more than a metaphorical link or a casual acquaintance between our healing and reconciliation to story. By telling our truthes and sharing our perspectives- from more than one worldview- that is how we will arrive.
MUSKRAT is pleased to present our third issue dedicated to the Truth and Reconciliation process and the thousands of Aboriginal children who endured the residential school era in this country. These tales and truthes are theirs, and we tuck them carefully into our pockets, grateful for the guidance, sorrowful for the loss, and crafting new stories onto the bones of the old ones.
And a story will show them the way
By Cherie Dimaline
Originally published by CBC Books in honour of National Aboriginal Day 2012
Roll up your sleeves, lace your fingers together and turn the steeple of your hands inside out, pushing away from your body so that every knuckle cracks. Bend your neck allowing each ear to touch the corresponding shoulder like a praying forehead to the ground. Now you’re ready.
Reach deep down, past the opening, in through the introduction, slipping on dialogue that slithers and stammers, right into the middle of the story. Don’t mind the sticky bits that smooth into the whorls of your fingerprints like white school glue and ignore the jagged edges that catch and pierce under your nails. Just keep reaching.
Stretch from the shoulder and bend at the knee not from the waist; you wouldn’t want to risk injury. Make sure you book some time off from work, this won’t soon be over. And when you hit the disturbing part, the mess in the middle that makes you shudder and grit your teeth, that’s when you know you’ve made real headway.
A story can be a scary thing, dangerous as a germ; it was the infamous pioneering author William S. Burroughs who called language ‘a virus from outer space’. But a story, despite (or perhaps, because of) maleficent metaphor and misguiding twists, can also be useful as a map, letting you know with brutal efficiency where you are, where you have been and exactly how you feel about the journey that got you there.
It’s a sentence that punches you in the gut. It’s a word that gets stuck in the back of your throat. It’s an image that pulls you in through a window before promptly kicking you out the backdoor after it’s had its way with you. A story is a suitcase we pack with our culture, our defeats and our triumphs, our questions and our answers. Stories are both the way we relate to each other and the way we react to one other.
In an uncertain future together we can only hope to have the stories that map out how we got there, and mark with red X’s and circled detours the paths to avoid and the ones to skip merrily down, hand in hand. Then all that’s left to do is to roll up our sleeves and reach in as far as we can.