University of Saskatchewan library launching Indigenous storyteller program

Sitting around the campfire isn’t the only way to tell a story.

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The University of Saskatchewan library aims to explore some of those ways through an Indigenous storytelling program.

“It’s so important that we never lose sight that we are on Treaty 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis and our sense of place is a central part of the university’s identity,” USask university library dean Charlene Sorensen said.

The six-week pilot will begin Jan. 4, 2021 and will be taught by Lindsay Knight.

Knight has been a hip-hop artist for 20 years, using music to share her experiences as a mother and Indigenous woman. Her music career along with her love of reading and writing eventually led her to the university’s Indigenous studies department.

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“Because I’m Nehiyaw from this land I decided to do my PhD here,” Knight said.

“A lot of the work I do in the music reflects who we are as Indigenous people.”

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Sorenson said Knight was the perfect fit to share Indigenous knowledge and perspectives with staff and students.

Knight is thrilled to be the first storyteller, adding she believes it’s progressive for the institute to acknowledge stories and history don’t just come from pages of a book.

“To be able to share experience and stories with university students and the university community is like a dream come true,” Knight said.

Even though the program needs to be done virtually, Knight hopes the group will feel connected. She plans on finding ways everyone can find common ground, looking at challenges this school year has brought.

Throughout the six weeks, she will create new music and poetry.

“I also am open to considering having students be a part of that process. Maybe even doing some open mics,” Knight said.

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Logistics of the program, including how many people are participating, is still being worked out. While it’s just a pilot, Sorenson hopes other Indigenous storytellers will be able to share more perspectives after Knight.

Knight will be reflecting on the program during Indigenous achievement week in February.

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