Chad Solomon, member of the Henvey Inlet First Nation and author/performer, shared with students of Our Lady of the Rosary School the story of the Seven Grandfathers – a traditional story of the Anishinabek Nation, which compromises 49 First Nation Communities across Northern Ontario. The story of the Seven Grandfathers is where contemporary culture received the story of the Dreamcatcher.
Solomon shared the story of the Seven Grandfathers through puppetry to engage his audience through the one universal human language – humour.
“Our story is about discovering the Seven Grandfathers of love, respect, wisdom, truth, honesty, courage and humility,” Solomon said. “It is from a traditional Anishinabek perspective and we are having fun using a modern art form like puppetry. The kids can interact and explore the story.”
The performance featured Solomon who selected other students and teachers to act out the shared dream sequence of Rabbit and Bear Paws in which the characters meet and learn from animals who represent the Seven Grandfathers.
“We discover the stories and help the kids see what the story means to themselves,” Solomon said “We create this story based on the traditional story of the Dreamcatcher. We make connections through the spider’s web and connect in good ways.”
It is Solomon’s intent to share knowledge with others. He explained how he inherited the passion for sharing cultural stories through his own heritage.
“My family is both Anishinabek and Scottish. I have experienced the benefit of sharing knowledge between communities,” he said. “I look for traditional stories that show positive messages of how people and animals can demonstrate the experience of helping each other in peaceful and fun ways.”
He added that he first heard the story of the Seven Grandfathers from his own grandparents who were both recognized elders of the Anishinabek First Nation.
“The stories they told me as a kid – I get to share with others now that I am a bigger kid,” he said to the students of the school.
Solomon sees a greater interest in sharing the stories of First Nations communities across Canada and believes that a belief in issues like clean drinking water of these communities are universal to all humanity.
“A lot of people look at First Nations peoples as leaders on environmental issues but really it is an important job for everyone,” Solomon said. “It just happens to be that we identify our community as the stewards of the land. We are grateful for that title and responsibility, but it takes everyone from every culture to do it.”
If you would like more information about Solomon’s books, graphic novels or performances you can log on to www.rabbitandbearspaw.com.
“If you can share something in a funny way – people want to connect with you,” Solomon added.