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My Talking Stick…

I was first introduced to the talking stick when I had to work on a project for the Big Droke Cultures Foundation and had a conversation with a Representative of the Bartlett’s Harbour Band Council. She had provided me with a wealth of knowledge of Aboriginal culture and values.

One topic of interest was the Talking Stick. She noted this item was of tribal significant when in a group. The most senior individual, usually a Chief if present will start talking and when holding the stick s/he would not be interrupted.  It was meant for courtesy and when the person was finished they would pass it along to the next council member that had something to contribute. This seems like a good approach to conduct business. It appears more mannerly way of getting things done than some of the soundbites and theatrics that come from the House of Commons during question period.

I was fortunate during April 2010, to be able to sit down with an instructor at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Goose Bay, Labrador and make my very own talking stick. At one end, I painted the Labrador Flag with 2010 and the other the FINALY! symbol reflecting the administering organization overseeing the initiative of the Provincial Government’s Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy. In between, I got some inspiration from Vincent van Gough’s “Starry Night” as I painted an impressionable moon, stars, mountains, rivers and other reminders of natural Labrador. I am quite proud of my talking stick and the significance it has to the Aboriginal culture.

Immerse yourself in culture…

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Experience Labrador: Life Changing for Peninsula Youth

This article was written by CCM and appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of the Northern Pen Newspaper:

Memories of Labrador: Inukshuk, Inukituk doll, Sealskin hut & Canoe, FINALY! Talking Stick and more.

Negative stereotypes portrayed in the media have influenced the mindset of how some perceive life in Labrador. FINALY! (Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Youth) hosted a five-day cultural exchange entitled Experience Labrador from April 12-17, 2010. The program enabled 21 youth and three FINALY! staff aged 15-35 from all over the island portion of the province travel to Labrador, serving as a unique avenue to experience diverse cultures, traditions, employment opportunities and self-government in Labrador. Five youth from the Northern Peninsula were selected to attend, including myself; CP, St. Anthony; EP, St. Lunaire-Griquet; RM, Flowers Cove and NC, St. Lunaire-Griquet.

Ernie Maclean of the Labrador Heritage Society spoke to the effect some people may preach youth are our future and this is certainly true, but in his view youth are also the present. These words were effective, powerful, and positive. A group icebreaking activity reinforced this comment as participants were asked before the trip to give organizers one fact about themselves. All participants then had to match each person with their fact. Facts included a noteworthy classical guitarist and the founder of Helping Hands for Haiti, yet extended to include long-term plans for one youth to be future Prime Minister and another to blossom as an actress. A diverse group dynamic filled the week with enthusiasm as the people of Labrador presented the many positive initiatives occurring in the region.

Youth Drum Dancers

To elaborate, the Nunatsiavut Government is focusing on eco-tourism and resource management, language coordinators are using Rosetta Stone software to help preserve the Inuktitut language, elders are sharing their stories, employers are diversifying the economy, communities are coming together to promote heritage and a Friendship Centre exists to offer traditional craft instruction, drum dance performances and to bring communities together. I have travelled 27 countries, both large cities and rural regions; yet experiencing Labrador was enlightening. It proved that success is obtainable with perseverance and the right attitude. As residents of the Northern Peninsula if we reflect on our past way of life, culture, and values we will realize they are not so different from that of Labrador. There are common issues challenging both rural and urban Newfoundland and Labrador; however, as in the past through understanding and community co-operation we can overcome adversity.

An opportunity to meet a Labrador Husky Dog Team

“All the negative impressions and stereotypes that we get from the media, limited my desire to visit the interior of Labrador. This experience made me realize that Labrador is not as bad as what we often hear. In fact it is really similar to the small communities in Newfoundland,’ states RM, ‘a well-organized exchange enabled cultural involvements, such as Inuit games, a session on Inuktituk language and meeting a Labrador Huskie dog team. Overall, an incredible week spent with amazing people and a lifetime of memories.”

“I am so glad to have gotten the chance from FINALY! to participate. I had many views of Labrador prior to participating, sadly most were negative’, says NC. ‘Now those negative views are gone because I got to experience just what Labrador has to offer. The people are very passionate about their land and their culture and are doing what they can to preserve both. Nunatsiavut, meaning ‘beautiful land’ perfectively depicts Labrador. I hope FINALY! is able to hosts more exchanges, the benefits are significant and I will do my part to recommend them to other youth.”

Pristine Beauty

“Programs like Experience Labrador help greatly in reducing negative stereotypes that are portrayed in the media through active education and real life experience”, notes CP. An overwhelming group consensus would rate this project a great success for the youth in attendance, FINALY! and the province. A special thank you is extended to the Newfoundland and Labrador Government and their Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy making funding for this project available.

 If you’d like more photos check out Facebook Group: Live Rural NL. Join the FB Page: Live Rural NL (Newfoundland & Labrador) and follow me on Twitter: liveruralnl. Share with all your contacts, spread the word about Live Rural NL!

Loving the Labrador Experience, just like living the island portion of the province –

CCM

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