If the legends fall silent,
who will teach the children of our ways?
—Chief Dan George, My Heart Soars
Welcome to the Our Voices, Our Stories website, an exhibition celebrating stories from the oral tradition of the Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples, from the past to the present.
The accumulated knowledge or "way of knowing" for Aboriginal societies was traditionally held in the collective memory of the people. The oral tradition of these societies documented national, regional, community and family history; language; cultural traditions; spiritual beliefs; and a rich body of literature which consists of stories, oratory, poems, and ceremonial language.
The oral tradition taught history and values and explained the world to young and old. Everything in the universe had a spirit, a place, a time and a story that explained its personality and its relationship to man.*
Thanks to experts from Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities who participated in the project and acted as consultants, Our Voices, Our Stories presents a selection of stories bearing witness to the cultural diversity, living history and collective knowledge from which they came. The traditional stories featured on this site represent a mere fraction of a vast cultural heritage. This heritage continues to blossom through the contemporary voices of storytellers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and authors also featured at this site. They, in their own way, carry on the tradition of storytelling and oral culture.
*(Johnston, Basil. Ojibway Heritage: Ceremonies, Rituals, Songs, Dances, Prayers and Legends of the Ojibway. Toronto McClelland & Stewart, c1976, p. 21)