January 11, 2021: Indigenous Storywork: The Gift of Q’um Q’um Xiiem also know as Dr. Jo-ann Archibald

Happy 2021! Welcome Back! This week we will feature an Indigenous scholar, author, and bushwhacker in the advancement of Indigenous education, Q’um Q’um Xiiem also known as Dr. Jo-ann Archibald and the gifts she has provided starting with a basket of digital resources through the website: Indigenous Storywork. She is member of the Stol:lō Nation and the former associate dean for Indigenous Education and director of the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP). She is also Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. As the author of Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit she has created a wonderful website with valuable digital resources including Elder’s teachings, storytelling reflections and on becoming story-ready.

The purpose of the Indigenous Storywork website is to help educators learn about Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing, predominantly through Indigenous traditional and life-experience stories. For many years, Q’um Q’um Xiiem learned about the important role of stories from Coast Salish Elders and other Indigenous storytellers. Stories can guide the development of our heart, mind, body, and spirit. Through Elders’ guidance and mentorship, she developed a way to appreciate and understand the beauty and power of Indigenous stories, which she called, Indigenous storywork. The website provides a place where Q’um Q’um Xiiem shares her reflections and teachings about Indigenous storywork. What is it is? How can it be used in education at any level? What resources could be used and how best to use them?

In the following video by NNCIE – On Indigenous Storytelling – Dr. Jo-ann Archibald shares the importance of getting ready to work with Indigenous stories and shares how Indigenous storywork contributes to the goals within Indigenous education. In Part One, she shares her perspectives about the Indigenous storywork principles of respect, responsibility, reverence, and reciprocity, which facilitate a process of getting story-ready to work with Indigenous traditional and life-experience stories. In Part Two, she applies the other Indigenous storywork principles of holism, inter-relatedness, and synergy to a Stó:lō story of “Mr. Magpie and Mr. Crow” told by Stó:lō Elders Harry Edwards and Agnes Kelly. Questions to consider: Do you have an understanding of this story that is different from mine? Could you use Indigenous storywork in your teaching practice? If so, how?

In Indigenous Storywork (2008),  Dr. Jo-ann Archibald shared – Hands Back, Hands Forward – an Indigenous teaching from the late First Nation Elder, Dr. Vincent Stogan, Tsimilano, from Musqueam. The teaching reminds us that when we gather to share our knowledge and to discuss important ‘work’, we stand in circle to give thanks and to show our support for one another by holding hands. We hold our left palm upward to symbolize reaching back to receive help from our Ancestors and those who have walked before us. We learn to use these teachings and our responsibility is to help those who come after us. We then extend our right palm downwards as a symbol giving help. This is the teaching of hands back and hands forward. In the following video from the Department of Educational Studies, she talks about what ‘Indigenizing the curriculum’ means and how it can be practiced explaining our responsibility to pass along our knowledge to others.

During the Educational Studies Symposium of 2018 school administrators, students, researchers, and faculty members of UBC gathered on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people for conversations around Dr. Joann Archibald’s Indigenous storywork. Following the symposium, a resource was created to facilitate bringing the seven principles of storywork into the classroom. The seven principles were applied to the themes and messages from the books included in this digital resource. Books were chosen from the FNESC and personal resources of educators involved in the project. A total of 50 books were reviewed and 24 are included in the resource. The book list is meant to be a starting point; a place for teachers to identify the principles of storywork in children’s books to use as a reflection of Indigenous pedagogy. They are ordered by grade level, ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 5-8.

Q’um Q’um Xiiem is a visionary and an agent of change. She is nationally recognized for creating culturally relevant teacher education and graduate programs for Indigenous students. Her work has transformed the Indigenous learning landscape through curriculum and program development, policy, teaching and research. In the following zoom recording, from last year, I was fortunate to attend a conversation with Dr. Jo-ann Archibald Q’um Q’um Xiiem called The Many Facets of Decolonizing and Indigenizing the Academy, facilitated by Dorothy Cucw-la7 Christian from SFU. The conversation gave us the opportunity to listen with “three ears” to a presentation on the spectrum of Q’um Q’um Xiiem’s work in Indigenizing higher education. She highlighted approaches for decolonizing and Indigenizing courses, teaching practices, and approaches that address innovative teaching, learning, and research. Listen below…