The Healing Power of Storytelling: Finding Identity Through Narrative

  • Seren Micheal Friskie Douglas College
Keywords: intergenerational trauma; healing; storytelling; narrative identity; Indigenous knowledge

Abstract

This paper describes the power of storytelling in the context of an Indigenous youth collective, which
gathers each week to share their lived experiences and learn song, dance, and lessons through story. I
begin with my own life narrative followed by an exploration of how the intergenerational transmission
of historical trauma has left many Indigenous youth searching for a connection to their culture. I then
discuss research that reveals the importance of cultural continuity, self-determination, and engagement
in the community to the healing journey of Indigenous youth. Next, I consider oral storytelling as one
method of knowledge delivery, utilized by Indigenous Nations for thousands of years, that seamlessly
blends cultural learning and thus connection to identity. I detail the creation of a Youth Storytelling
Circle which centres teachings from the Stó:lō, Haida, Nisga’a, Salish, and Popkum Coast Salish Nations
surrounding the shores and rainforests of what is now British Columbia. I conclude with reasons why
engaging youth in their wellbeing through traditional practices is of high importance to us all as Indigenous
community members.

Published
2020-07-13