For this school year some AE Perry, Kay Bingham, Juniper Ridge, Pacific Way and South Sa-Hali students will be immersed in local heritage, culture and personal experiences as they explore the vibrant oral tradition of Aboriginal stories and legends. Learning is in embedded in memory, history and story (First Principles of Learning) and it is through storytelling that students make stories their own, gaining a better understanding of themselves, their culture and the world. Teacher-librarians at these schools will share story telling techniques with their students providing students with manipulatives and props to help them rein-act their authentic stories.
Kenthen Thomas is Secwepemc/Okanagon from Salmon Arm. Ken then told the story of a Roots and Blues Festival veteran (he performed at the Festival in 2007 and 2012), Kenthen Thomas’ past performances have also included stints with Secwepemc Native Theatre, Dreamweaver Theatre (Simon Fraser University), Senclip Native Theatre, Caravan Farm Theatre and Shuswap Theatre. He also appeared in voice on the CBC’s Legends Series that appeared nationwide in 2006.
Recently he has been involved with the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, doing both storytelling and the Secwepemc Grand Opening for the entire festival. In 2012, he co-wrote, co-directed and starred in a play for Shuswap Theatre called Legends, which had a 22 show run through the summer, and since then he has been travelling around BC teaching and telling stories. More recently he did the Aboriginal celebration and Canada Day festivities in Salmon Arm and at schools in the Lower Mainland and in the Interior.
As a First Nations performer, Kenthen captivates audiences with his fascinating retellings of legends of the Secwepemc, his family land for more than 10,000 years. This is where his late Grandmother, respected and even legendary Secwepemc elder, the late Dr. Mary Thomas, taught him the traditional art of storytelling. Storytelling for the Shuswap people brought entertainment to the families during long winter nights. It was also a way to keep the history alive, tell important lessons, and share amusing anecdotes about all the creatures found on this land. Kenthen heard from his Grandmother, Mary, how a bear and a coyote found out how to create a balance between night and day. There are also stories about how trusting the advice of Coyote (Seklep) caused Bear to lose his once long and lovely tail. Tricky Coyote features in many Secwepemc legends and is often the example of how NOT to behave. Other legends that have been passed down through Kenthen's family for generations feature the animals, birds and fish and that were once integral to the lives of the original residents of this region. Their language, Secwepemctsin, and these stories have become marginalized and even endangered because of the predominance and ethnocentrism of English language and culture in Canada.