A True Storyteller
I talk to audiences of all ages because, you know, the thing about traditional English storytelling is that the stories were told over and over, and over again and they were not told, you know, just strictly to children.
I think when I was a kid and we were, you know, I grew up in igloos, some sod huts I lived the traditional life of Inuit when, you know, we were nomadic people.
We traveled around and we hunted seals, walrus, whales, polar bears out on the sea ice in the winter and you know every night sleep in an igloo.
You know, if we were traveling, my father would build an igloo and we would go in and we usually traveled within a family group. So my grandparents, my aunts and uncles usually traveled with us so.
Every night when I went to bed, you know, I had lots of storytellers and that was one of the things that we really looked forward to, was to lie down and have a story told to you. You would fall asleep and usually, you know, you heard a story so many times that you knew exactly how the words went and everything.
Somewhere along the way, you fell asleep you know so I never heard the endings of these stories until I was finally old enough to stay awake through a story. I think that the mark of a storyteller was, you know, was how he or she put you to sleep.
But the only thing about stories, these traditional Inuit legends, is they always had a message, you know, the storytellers didn’t actually come out and say, "Here’s the moral," you know, "This is the moral of the story." It was just that from hearing the story over and over, and over again you sort of, they sort of gave you this, you know, on how to live your life, but the stories were shared by all and for everybody you know.
There are hundreds of Inuit legends and the ones that I tell, you know, I only tell very few stories because I remember the stories but you have to practice them in a certain language and, you know, I practiced them in Inuktitut or I’ve told them enough times in Inuktitut, told them enough times that I know how to tell them in Inuktitut, but there are very few that I have told in English. Those are the ones that I tell in English, although my repertoire is a lot you know higher in Inuktitut.
The following stories are by Michael Kusugak.
This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.