By Heather Ramsay-Stories that were once passed word of mouth through generations of Haida in Old Massett are being turned into radio dramas for CBC radio. Others are being recorded for locally produced CDs, which will be offered for sale in 2006.
The project is part of a CBC initiative to record indigenous stories from across Canada and air them on the radio, as well as a local initiative of the Haida Heritage and Repatriation Society to record stories from elders in the community.
A drama workshop held at the teen centre in Masset last week drew 40 people, many participating in games to help build acting skills.
Lucille Bell, one of the local coordinators of the project, described a community machine participants helped create in the workshop.
“You had to use your body to make part of the machine and to make sound effects,” she says.
She says workshop helped the organizers to see where the talent lies in the community.
“There were a few standouts,” says Ms Bell.
“It was great to see moms and daughters taking part in all the activities,” she added.
Stories have now been chosen that include parts for those able to participate.
One of the stories elder Mary Swanson told to the recorders was about a baby octopus.
Ms Bell says many Haida stories include a lesson, often about how to respect nature.
This particular story is about some boys who find a baby octopus on the beach and start poking at it with a stick. The octopus gets away and goes back to its village under the sea to tell its relatives. As they get ready for a war with the humans, a Haida medicine man has a vision of the coming conflict.
As this story will be made into a radio drama, stay tuned to CBC for the ending or keep an ear out for the CD.
Stories were recorded in English and when possible, Haida. All stories will be transcribed and those in English translated into Haida.
Excitement is brewing in the community at the thought of using the bilingual plays in the schools to help people learn the language.
The production of the plays takes place until July 11. After that the society plans to continue documenting Haida legends and producing a booklet to accompany
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