Connecting through communication

Storyteller discusses the power of building a community, collectivity and sharing experiences

“Tell me a story.”

This was the challenge given by speaker Richard Wagamese during the sixth annual Storyteller’s Gala on Feb. 25 put on by the TRUSU Equity Committee.

Following the presentation, every person in the room must have connected with Wagamese, as he said to talk to someone is to ask them to “tell me a story” and to hear a story is to learn and to connect with another person.

Richard Wagamese was on campus for the annual Storyteller’s Gala on Feb. 25. (Kasahra Atkins/The Omega)

Richard Wagamese was on campus for the annual Storyteller’s Gala on Feb. 25. (Kasahra Atkins/The Omega)

After speaking of his life dealing with illiteracy as well as verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse and the realization that learning is made through connections with people and the stories they tell, Wagamese was able to talk about the effects of storytelling in Canada. According to Wagamese, with a nation so vast, storytelling is a major way to bring about change.

On the topic of Canada’s missing Aboriginal women, Wagamese said that we need to get people talking about it and relay to the government about how we feel on the matter.

Wagamese spoke about how personal experiences connect us better than lectures can and will group people together to achieve more. To begin, however, we must start with our immediate circles, explaining how, like ripples, the smallest one will grow.

“Storytelling creates community. If students were to sit together and tell stories, a community is built. This will be a lasting community,” Wagamese said when the topic of learning outcomes at TRU was brought up.

After capturing the audience, Wagamese shifted his talk into literacy. Not the typical literacy that is simply translation, but emotional literacy. He claimed, “We need to teach ‘emotional literacy’ and say ‘This makes me feel.’”

Wagamese said that this is how we can focus on our students and the dropout rate that has been getting to an alarming high. He expressed that by talking with the students and asking them not “What are you learning?” but “Do you feel this is being learnt?” a student can connect and tell a story about their schooling and stay involved.

With a number of people asking one-on-one questions in the book signing portion, Wagamese left the audience with an open mind and a new story to share.