Guest Blog by Carol Rose GoldenEagle, Saskatchewan Poet Laureate

Every thing is a story.

Everyone is a storyteller.

And with this, one phrase that needs to be stricken from anyone’s vocabulary is this;

“I am not a real writer, but…”

I have heard this comment dozens of times. The funny thing is, that sentence is spoken by someone who is attending one of the many writing workshops that I have facilitated over the years.

I have to assure them, “You are a writer.  That’s why you are here at a writing workshop.”

But I do know where the lack of confidence comes from. I have experienced it myself.

Someone asked me the other day – how long have you been a storyteller? I have to say, it is something I have always done.

I grew up on the bald, flat prairie just southeast of Regina, even though my biological roots are in Northern Saskatchewan. I was one of those children taken in the 1960’s scoop up. I was a young Cree/Dene girl displaced and put in the care of the foster system, and placed in a geographical area foreign to my genetic memory.  

Maybe that is the reason I began telling stories. To reconnect.

My earliest memories of creating my own stories happened when I was about five. I would wander into the wheat field right at the edge of town. It was there my imagination soared.

My foster Dad had a subscription to National Geographic magazine. Within those pages was the I first time I saw other people of colour. I grew up seeing only white faces in the community where the child welfare system placed me. 

The photos from National Geographic inspired me. I would head out toward the prairie, and make up stories about being surrounded by a jungle. My childs’ imagination allowed gophers to become wild boars. A little rain puddle became a rushing river, like what I’d seen in the pictures of the magazine. That was in the summer months.

By winter, I wrote poetry about sunlight dancing on fresh snow. I wrote about the sound of crunching snow under my boots, or how fun it is to play snowballs. I was no more than seven years old by that time.

My love of writing continued, and near the end of high school, I proudly announced that I wanted to be a writer after graduation. This is where that dream took a turn.  

A teacher told me, “You will never be a writer.”

I believed it.  

Why do people say things like that?

To make a long story short, I abandoned the idea of being an author and spent decades working as a journalist instead, mostly with the CBC.  During those years, I also became a mother, and in so many ways, it’s because of my 3 children that I started creative writing again.

When my kids were little, we’d read a bedtime story every night. I love how they all tucked in under my arms and listened. It was our routine – reading bedtime stories. But, it soon became obvious that almost none of the children’s literature, back when my kids were little, reflected my own Indigenous culture. 

So, I started making up my own bedtime stories.   

My children delighted in hearing about their Kohkum (Grandmother in Cree). They loved seeing familiar places; big clear lakes filled with fish, or picking low-bush cranberries. As much as possible, I used Cree language in the stories I created for them.  

By the time I became a Mom, I had reconnected with my biological family, who are fluently Cree and still live in northern Saskatchewan. I wanted my children to celebrate these roots. Reclaiming.

Storytelling has been how I broke the cycle of being disconnected. I created stories of the pride and strength of our People. I told stories about embracing our own Indigenous heritage, and passed it on to my children.

Since those early years of storytelling for my own children, I am now following my own path.

I am a full-time author.  

I have written several books of fiction that have won literary awards. I just signed with a BC children’s publisher, so that the same stories that I told my own kids can be widely shared. And, in 2021, I was named as Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate.

What each of us has to share is important, which is why I still banish the sentence, “I am not a real writer, but….”

You are a writer.  Just do it.  And don’t limit yourself.

Every thing is a story.

Everyone is a storyteller.