Teacher turned storyteller
- Andrea Bellerose | February 15, 2023
Jasmyn Albert is participating in this year’s Aboriginal Storytelling Month and she couldn’t be more excited.
Albert, a Saskatoon artist and educator, is relatively new to the speaking circuit. However, she has taken her class to storytelling events in the past, so she knows all about it.
“I grew up in Saskatoon, attended high school here and got my Bachelor of Education through ITEP (Indian Teacher Education Program) in 2019,” she said.
Albert is not in a Saskatoon classroom this year for Storytelling Month, but that’s not stopping her.
“Right now, I work with a company called Connected North where I bring education to Northern and isolated communities,” she said. “So I provide curriculum that they may not get and bring different cultural activities to these communities, such as beading, ribbon skirt making, starblanket teaching, to name a few.”
Albert tells her own stories, but also teaches storytelling to her students to enhance their learning.
“The way I do it is in all of our teachings and all of our cultures; sometimes there are stories and simple things for why we offer tobacco and smudge,” she said. “Sometimes there are trickster stories or the stories of the willow and things like that. My personal classroom involves telling stories the way I was told as a kid.”
When asked if there are certain stories Albert is telling over and over, she responded with a procedure she does.
“I do a lot of teepee teaching and the story of it and understanding the 15 poles and what they mean,” she said. “Each teepee pole has a value and a reason why it is part of our home and our structure.”
Albert describes how she doesn’t call herself a storyteller, but as someone who shares her culture and traditions. She feels that the term “storytelling” has an element of fiction to it. But she shares that telling stories is beneficial, particularly for her students.
“For my Indigenous students, I see a spark in their eye and they find connection; they get to learn about their culture. For my non-Indigenous students, I get to break down those negative ideas about Indigenous people and culture. It is beautiful, deep and strong. Many think it is dead and that we all lost it, but we still have a lot of our strong traditions.”
For what makes a good storyteller, Albert keeps it simple.
“When you are sharing stories to kids you want them to be happy and present your story energetic, proud and confident.”
On Feb 28, Albert is joining her kokum Mary Lee for a virtual storytelling session, which starts at 6 p.m.
“I love sharing,” she said. “My kokum taught me everything. It is always exciting when I get to share with her. We will be talking about some teepee teachings and stories from a long time ago. Learning what your teaching was the old-fashioned way; I learned my culture from my kokum.”