The Power of Storytelling for Healing and Social Justice
5:31PM Aug 4, 2022
Hello, my name is Rehana Tejpar and I'm the National Program Facilitator for Righting Relations. And I'm here with Ishbel Munro in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, our Eastern Hub Coordinator. And we're going to just have a little conversation about some of the things that we've been learning in Righting Relations. Hi, Ishbel. Hello.
For those of you who are not aware, Righting Relations is a women-led, pan-Canadian network of adult educators for social change. In partnership with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. We are a community of practice of practitioners of transformative adult education, popular education, critical thinking education, and we work with indigenous immigrant refugee and low income communities. For radical social change. Our mission is to be a community of practice, to come together to strengthen our collective capacity, and to learn from one another across Turtle Island.
So as we reflect on our our practice, and what we're learning in building, this women led network of adult educators across Turtle Island, I would love for you to share some of your reflections on the role of storytelling in facilitating healing and social justice.
Well, I think it's important on a number of different levels. For one, woman stories are often not heard. And sometimes if they are heard, they may be being told by a man in the circuit from a woman. So for women to be able to tell their stories into the circle, tell what's been going on for them. This, it helps to open up the heart, and to be fully present. And even when we're listening, if we're fully present and focus, it provides that support for the person who is speaking. And it also connects access to them as a human being. And so from that story, people will take different layers of meaning. And I think stories are also amazing in that you can hear a story. And then five years later hear the same story and take different meaning from it, depending where you are in your life journey. So when you share a story, it's not saying you need to do this, this than this. It's not telling people rules. It's offering a story as an opportunity for your own learning, without any right or wrong, or judgment in it. So it's a wonderful way to learn things in a way that is comfortable for wherever someone is at in their own journey.
Yeah, I agree with you. And I think what's so powerful about stories is that we can connect to human experiences as humans, we we listen to stories, and immediately our emotions, our minds, our memories are awoken and we can find similar tunes across the differences that are that are also there in our diversity of, of humankind, and an in that connection, and in that seeing the other and seeing ourselves in the other. I think there's a lot of opportunity for building solidarity and
replace. It's the Yeah, it's the same story.
And it creates a fertile ground for potential of, of solidarity. Because when we see ourselves in each other struggles, then we realize that it's not an isolated instance, it's not just me. And it's not just my people. It's also you. And it's also another and perhaps that community that that person speaks from has also been facing that struggle. And so it allows for different sectors of our population to, to see to see the real relationships, the commonalities in our struggles, and it's essential that we're doing that work in terms of building building movements of living in different ways that are more just and connected, that we are working together. Because we can't do it in isolation and in this divided state of affairs.
Exactly, yeah. And that gets you thinking beyond just using your mind, it can also touch your heart. And so that learning how to listen with your heart, learning how to speak with your heart. Those are important skills that we need in terms of human survival, and in terms of just life and protection of water, and all those sorts of things.
Yes, and I think that miigam'agan, one of our dear sisters and colleagues, out east in New Brunswick, also said, we are learning how to listen again, we are learning how to be in conversation again. Many of us are not able to fully drop into another person's story. We're very much in our own heads and thinking about what we're going to say. And you know, what that means for us. And the practice of deep listening, that is central to sitting in circle and, and sharing our stories where one person is holding the talking stick, and invited to speak from the heart is, is essential also, for us to be able to build relationships, and communities that are more healthy. Because when we're able to deeply listen to another and that person is feeling that degree of presence and witnessing. The wounds that we carry can be healed. And we can really begin to understand what each other was going through. And, and it's a practice, it's a real big, it's a practice, and we have to fight against our own intellectual activity at times to be able to just witness and be witness.
And I think it's amazing because when you sit in circles, I remember Tina Barnard one time saying when you sit in circles, and I remember our recent gathering, and looking over and someone was just sitting there and they weren't talking, they were listening, but they blossomed. And it was so beautiful, because they they opened up, and their face completely changed. And I was seeing them. And it was so beautiful. And I thank the person after the gathering for being so present. And she did talk about how it took her a while to be able to come to that place. And it was so interesting to me how the whole face change, when she was fully present and fully listening with an open heart as different people shared around the circle. There's a power in that, because it is about becoming human and becoming connected, because so much in society has disconnected us from the earth from each other. And so, through those circles, it is learning our way back to real connections, true connections, the kinds of connections that we need, we are going to have, right.
Thank you, Ishbel. And for those of you who are listening and watching, if you're interested in finding out more about the Righting Relations network, please visit rightingrelations.org That's r-i-g-h-t-ing relations.org. Thank you