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Storytelling Season 

For the Ojibway Anishinaabek here on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, winter is the season for storytelling. While stories are shared and told in all of the seasons, the winter offers a slower time of year with long, dark days and nights which are the perfect time for storytelling. There is also less harvesting to be done but the spirits of Mnidoo Gamii are asleep under the snow. For some stories, it is critical that there be snow on the ground for the story to be shared. For many others,, winter is the only season where there is time to share the long, detailed, or extended version of a story that may take multiple days to tell. 

Many generations ago, when the Ojibway moved with the seasons, they would move into large wiigwaas (birchbark) wigwams and live on the food they collected and preserved in the spring, summer, and fall. Winter nights were the perfect time to sit around a fire together and share stories, which were entertaining, and taught valuable lessons while passing the time. The tradition of storytelling is the main way the Anishinaabek keep and pass on their history and teachings. This is the method by which all Anishinaabe would learn about the world around them, and how to live alongside each other. Elders would share stories to the youth in their communities and the stories would be learned and passed down from generation to generation. 

The tradition carries on today, with people of all ages gathering to listen and share stories through the winter. 

This year Georgian Bay Biosphere (GBB) staff participated in the storytelling season. They gathered at lunch to listen to a variety of stories from different knowledge holders from the great lakes region. With the support of Georgian Bay Anishinaabek Youth and the GBB Cultural Program we were able to select a variety of different stories, one for each week from January to the end of February. 

During our storytelling lunches, staff have learned stories about the land we are on and the animals that live here, we have learned how they came to be the way they are and what lessons they are teaching us. Some of the stories talked about the stars, others talked about the fisher and the winter spirit, the serpents and lake panthers and so much more. We were so lucky to be able to learn from so many different knowledge keepers that have shared what they know either through published work or online. 

Some of the works we read/listened to were from:

  • The Mishomis Book By Edward Benton-Banai
  • Bomgiizhik (Isaac Murdoch) 
  • Michael Waasegiishig Price

Chi miigwech to them for sharing their knowledge with us. 

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