Cape Bre­ton sto­ry­telling book free to all Mi’kmaw schools

The Victoria Standard - - Arts - CAPE BRE­TON

At the an­nual Mi’kmaw Sym­po­sium in Dart­mouth, Lau­ri­anne Sylvester, di­rec­tor of the First Na­tion School Suc­cess Pro­gram—mi'kmaw Kina'mat­newey (Mk)—un­veiled the book called Great Cape Bre­ton Sto­ry­telling to be used through­out the Mi’kmaw fam­ily of schools, on Cape Bre­ton and away.

Pub­lished by Bre­ton Books as a Canada 150 gift for all Cape Bre­ton class­rooms, Great Cape Bre­ton Sto­ry­telling was cre­ated by pub­lisher Ronald Ca­plan. It is a dig­i­tal ebook to be down­loaded free of charge by ev­ery teacher and stu­dent in the Mi’kmaw school sys­tem.

“The dream,” says Ca­plan, “is that Cape Bre­ton teach­ers will want to use this book as an ad­di­tion to the reg­u­lar cur­ricu­lum. It brings more Cape Bre­ton sto­ries into the class­room. And as an ebook each stu­dent can keep the book as their own, to read it any­where they want on their com­puter or phone—for school­work and for plea­sure.”

On video, Ron Ca­plan in­tro­duced Great Cape Bre­ton Sto­ry­telling to all Mi’kmaw schools. Ca­plan read sev­eral Mi’kmaw tales as well.

Great Cape Bre­ton Sto­ry­telling in­cludes a gen­er­ous batch of sto­ries from the Mi’kmaw culture—sto­ries told by Rita Joe and Max Basque and Noel Mor­ris, and many oth­ers. And an added fea­ture of the ebook is that there is a link at the end of ev­ery story that car­ries the reader on into Cape Bre­ton’s Mag­a­zine on­line.

“A stu­dent can read Max Basque telling about the Mi’kmaw sto­ry­telling tra­di­tion in his child­hood home. That’s a good story in it­self. But if she touches the link at the end of that story, she will be taken im­me­di­ately to an­other twenty pages of Max Basque telling much more about his life, about grow­ing up in var­i­ous Nova Sco­tia com­mu­ni­ties as his fa­ther pur­sued op­por­tu­ni­ties for work, and his ad­ven­tures all over the globe in the Second World War. That’s how he told it in Cape Bre­ton’s Mag­a­zine, and that’s where the link takes the reader.”

There’s the won­der­ful story of how Noel Mor­ris beat the Devil in a dance con­test in his kitchen. Frank Doucette tells about Mi’kmaw rugged­ness and then, at the end of the story, touch the link and the reader is taken to that same story told in the Mi’kmaw lan­guage in Cape Bre­ton’s Mag­a­zine on­line. Lee Cremo tells about his fa­ther, Simon, who was an itin­er­ate fid­dler, sell­ing tunes from doorto-door.

A tribute to Cape Bre­ton tra­di­tion, Great Cape Bre­ton Sto­ry­telling is a col­lec­tion of 56 sto­ries. Be­sides the Mi’kmaw, the book gives ex­am­ples of the ex­tra­or­di­nary di­ver­sity of Cape Bre­ton Is­land. There are folk tales and life sto­ries rooted in the ex­pe­ri­ences of the is­land’s Pol­ish, Croa­t­ian, Pak­istani, Czech, Ukrainian, Jewish, Black and Le­banese com­mu­ni­ties, as well as the Aca­dian and Scot­tish tra­di­tions. Ca­plan adds: “But most of the book is good old Cape Bre­ton sto­ry­telling such as ‘But we went out af­ter mack­erel...!’ and ‘Fight­ing the Bear and ‘Mine Res­cue Team Me­mories’ and ‘The Drunken Hens’—sto­ries that be­long to us all.”

While free to all stu­dents and teach­ers in the Cape Bre­ton schools, 56 of the sto­ries in Great Cape Bre­ton Sto­ry­telling are also avail­able in pa­per­back, dis­trib­uted through­out Cape Bre­ton and across Canada. It is also avail­able on­line at www.cape­bre­ton­books.com.

The late Mi'kmaw writer Rita Joe is fea­tured in Ca­plan's col­lec­tion of Cape Bre­ton sto­ries, along with sev­eral other First Na­tions au­thors.

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