Lenny’s goodbye: Telling Stories
I had never really considered myself a storyteller growing up.
Sure, I had my anecdotes related to hunting, sports and mischievous shenanigans, but in the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t known for being a great storyteller.
When I decided to give journalism a whirl, it was not because I had any idealistic goals or dreams of changing the world. It was mainly because I had a knack for writing in the technical sense – I had pretty good grammar and spelling. I had no idea how else how to apply writing as a career.
After a year of college, I was hired by Wawatay as a summer student reporter.
One of my first assignments was interviewing the Ontario premier at the time. My editor gave me a list of questions to ask, and I had almost no knowledge of the context of the questions.
Northern Table? Mining Act? What are those? After not gaining a good quote or statement, the interview was a failure.
It was a reflection of my interest in politics.
But as I continued the summer internship, I realized I loved telling the stories of everyday people.
I have had people cry as they recollect the emotions and feelings felt during an experience. Similarly, some laugh as they recall a story.
Whether they overcame odds, suffered a loss, or accomplished a life goal, it was always interesting for me to talk with them and listen.
It is very humbling to realize that these people – complete strangers mostly – are entrusting me with details about themselves, their feelings and experiences. I try not to take it for granted and do the story right. I hold those words in my heart as I write up the story, and keep the readers in mind.
This is my fourth tenure with Wawatay News – and the longest at two years – and I have written so many stories. It is always a lot of work but is highly rewarding in the end when I see it in print.
And through writing all those stories – and guidance and advice from my editors and colleagues – I became a better storyteller.
There came a time when I thought I should give journalism a rest. I decided to learn a new form of storytelling. I shall become a filmmaker.
And so I moved here to Thunder Bay and completed a two-year film production program. I came away with more than I expected. I suppose I have a knack for this form of storytelling too. Two of my student documentaries have screened at various film festivals.
But it can be difficult to find steady work in a fluctuating industry such as film and video production. Gigs come and go. Especially in a relatively small market such as Thunder Bay.
And so I found Wawatay beckoning me yet again. Perhaps it was meant to be, because I found these past two years to be the most meaningful and enlightening experience in reporting on First Nations issues.
And in all, I have visited about 20 communities during my time with Wawatay, and I have always been treated and accommodated well and went home having made new friends.
But now is the time for me to move on again. I will be exploring a new form of storytelling: radio. I have been accepted to begin an eight-week internship with CBC Radio here in Thunder Bay.
It feels weird to be leaving and to be reporting for a new audience. I had always approached reporting with you, the First Nations people of all of northern Ontario, in mind. This new journey will take some getting used to.
Whether this internship extends or not, my ultimate goal is to be a filmmaker, to share our stories on the big screen. But that will have to wait for now.
You know, when I was a summer student reporter that first year, I travelled to Attawapiskat for Creefest and it was the first time I stepped on the land of where both my grandfathers hailed from. That summer, I also saw the actual Treaty 9, which to me at the time was just a historical document.
It seems fitting that my last travel trip this summer was to cover Creefest in Peawanuck, where I discovered I had family roots – my great-grandmother was from there.
And I saw Treaty 9 again. This time, after seeing and reporting on all the issues and problems in our communities over the years, and learning about the spirit and intent of which our ancestors signed, seeing the parchment had so much more meaning.
It reminded me that we as a people have a lot of work to do. And that I have a part to do.
Thanks to you all for reading and for allowing me to share your stories.
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