Storytelling has always beens used in traditional cultures as a way of bringing awareness and teaching. I recalled, just this morning, a story that was shared with me during a time of great struggle. Although I belong, on paper, to the Squamish Nation I was raised by my mother’s parents who were anglo-saxon. I did not find my way back to my indigenous roots until my late 20’s. As a result I lived with internal conflict around my identity for most of my life, not feeling as if I belonged anywhere or with anyone! One would think that this return to one’s roots would be celebratory. It was not. This journey was a difficult one during which I had to navigate those internal conflicts around my identity and sense of belonging as well as the external conflicts that I encountered with my own fellow community members. Funny how the internal and external mirror each other so accurately. At the time our neighbour and friend, sensing I was struggling, came for a cup tea and unexpectedly shared a story with me that was timely and incredibly powerful. I will attempt to reiterate her but know I cannot do justice to the prescence, compassion and care he showed in the telling of this story to me in person. My friend began sharing a legend of a little boy who had been lost at dusk one night and despite villagers desperately searching and searching they could not find him. The little boy had wandered off down to the river out of sight and earshot and before falling in and drowning had been rescued by a pack of wolves. The wolves took the boy in as one of their own. As this boy grew, the wolves noticed that this boy was not like them. He was not a very fast runner, did not have sharp claws or teeth, was not very strong and could not hunt very well on his own. Despite these differences, the wolves continued to raise the boy until he turned into a man. It was around this same time that the wolves decided to returned the boy to the village where he came from. The villagers, of course, had mixed feelings about the boy. He was different! No longer the boy they remembered losing so many years before. They noticed how fast the man could run, what a strong hunter he was and how adept at surviving in the forest he was. These were lessons he learned from the wolves. The villagers came to see the boy as having gifts much needed by the community and in time they learned from him and things changed.
The moral of the story is that sometimes we leave where we come from and we change. We go to school, we go into the world, into the work force and when we come back we are different. Within that difference we bring back gifts much needed by the rest of the tribe and in being different we find our true purpose and our true place of belonging.
This story has brought me, over and over again, back to a sense of calm and peace within myself that I’m not sure I would have achieved on my own. Very powerful!