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SMALL ISLAND, BIG VOICE: REZ’91 STORYTELLER CONCERT

SMALL ISLAND, BIG VOICE: REZ’91 STORYTELLER CONCERT

Robbie Antone’s Blues Machine. Photo: Caroline Holm

In our culture storytelling is a way to preserve our history as Anishnaabe people.

Wasauksing First Nation is a small island with a big voice. The fourth annual Storyteller Concert was held at Wasauksing’s community arena in August 2014. The Anishnaabe have a rich history of storytelling which this concert encourages and showcases. The performers who shared the stage are based not only throughout Canada, but also from our own backyard in Wasausking.

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Storyteller Concert Host and honoured storyteller, CBC Video Journalist, Waubgeshig Rice with ReZ’91 broadcaster, Cynthia King, Photo: Caroline Holm

To kick off the evening, Wasauksing’s own—and tremendously talented—Jimmy Dean Walker took to the stage.  Life on the rez has had a significant influence on his lyrics and bluesy storytelling drawl. Other notable entertainers that shared the stage were Deb Misener-Jones, The Michael Granka Band, and Robbie Antone’s Blues Machine. From the 30,000 Islands to Swiss alpine bells, and fiddling that blew the roof off, the Storyteller Concert did not disappoint. Hearing the sweet sounds of music resonating in the arena and across the water makes a person not want to miss this concert—and if you did, better luck next year!

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Jimmy Dean Walker, Photo: Caroline Holm

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Deb Misener-Jones with Wasauksing ensemble, Photo: Caroline Holm

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The Michael Granka Band, Photo: Caroline Holm

In our culture, storytelling is a way to preserve our history as Anishnaabe people. A long time ago the Elders would share stories with our youth, this way we could pass down our teachings and knowledge to future generations. For some Wasauksing youth, it all started with ReZ’91’s tiny radio station located in the village of the community.  Through this inspiration and exposure, some youth have started various small media and production businesses and chose careers in television broadcasting.

As a student in Radio Broadcasting at Seneca College, I received ReZ’91’s Storyteller bursary which has helped me through my studies.  Who would have guessed high-tech headphones would cost close to three hundred dollars?  Chi-Miigwech (Big Thanks) to ReZ’91 for their support and to their volunteers for the many hours of peddling raffle tickets.

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Storyteller’s Audience, Photo: Caroline Holm

This wonderful event could not have been possible without the sponsors, volunteers, community support, and audience. Sponsors included: Rock95, Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario Arts Council, RBC Royal Bank, The Mystic Loon, and last but not least—and certainly my biggest supporters—ReZ’91 and MUSKRAT Magazine from Wasauksing First Nation. A big shout out to Doris Potts-Zyganiuk, Sally Bailey, Cynthia King, and Bernie Drake for their endless volunteer support and enthusiasm, and anyone else I may not know that volunteers their time too.

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Vendor: Hali Tabobondung Photo: Caroline Holm

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Volunteer and former Grand Chief of Anishinabek Nation, John Beaucage sits with youngest concert audience member, Photo: Caroline Holm

The Annual Wasauksing Storyteller Concert will be coming back next year with new over-the-top performances. Performers and volunteers will be as seasoned as Bernie’s (Almost) Famous Burgers. Without sponsors an event like this would not be possible, how would we all fit into Bernie’s kitchen for a burger then? Meat over the fire, to meeting around the fire, this has been the Anishnaabe way throughout our rich history.

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Bernadette Drake Photo: Caroline Holm

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Storyteller Performer, Terry Christenson with ReZ’91 Co-founder and Manager, Vince Chechock, Photo: Caroline Holm

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MUSKRAT Editor Rebeka Tabobondung and Writer and Video Journalist, Waubgeshig Rice honoured at the Storyteller Concert, Photo: Caroline Holm

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Robbie Antone’s Blues Machine, Photo: Caroline Holm

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Rez’91 Radio Co-founder and Manager, Anita Chechock and photographer Caroline Holm

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Terry Christenson and Performers, Photo: Caroline Holm

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Robbie Antone, Photo: Caroline Holm
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About The Author

Zeeb Amy King

Zeeb Amy King is a 21-year-old emerging writer and broadcaster from Wasauksing First Nation. Amy is currently studying Radio Broadcasting at Seneca College. Small Island, Big Voice is her first publication in a magazine. While Amy is new to the field of media, she plans on running her own radio station in the near future. Her interests include hockey, travelling, baseball, and traditional ceremonies.

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