‘Stories are Wealth’: New Indigenous-Focused Bookstore Opens in Langford
A unique bookstore in Langford, B.C., that focuses on Indigenous authors hosted an open house Thursday ahead of its official opening later this month.
It’s a dream come true for Medicine Wheel owner Teddy Anderson who grew up in the Carcross First Nation located in the Yukon, where he learned the importance of sharing knowledge through storytelling.
“Stories are wealth,” said Anderson in the packed space at the corner of Happy Valley Road and Sooke Road on Thursday.
“Stories are passed from generation to generation and it’s a way of telling truth and perception and values – understanding and teachings,” he said.
In 2016, Anderson’s passion turned into a profession when he started a publishing company in Victoria with a focus on printing children’s books written by Indigenous authors.
His goal was to help keep the tradition of storytelling alive after the residential school system and the government at the time tried to silence those stories.
“It’s about creating a safe place,” Anderson told CTV News.
“So a lot of Indigenous stories are sacred to Indigenous people and providing a safe space where they can tell them, that suits them, in a way that is true to them, is very important for authenticity,” he said.
‘WE MUST FACE OURSELVES’
Now, six years later, Medicine Wheel will expand to its own bookstore with books for all ages, furthering the publisher’s goals of easing the reconciliation process by providing a safe learning space for all community members.
“We can’t expect everyone to know everything right way,” Anderson said.
“Truth and reconciliation, from my perception as a publisher in Indigenous content, is that we must face ourselves and ask ourselves difficult questions, and to do that we need access to resources, we need access to materials, we need access to books and truth-telling,” he said.
“By having this bookstore open we’re offering that opportunity to everyone.”
The authors that provide the valuable stories to Medicine Wheel say that by adapting to modern times they are helping empower children, and they get to see how they are helping with the reconciliation process.
“It’s giving children the ability to become knowledge keepers and to remember the stories,” said Trudy Spiller, an author from the Gitxsan First Nation in northwest B.C.
She added that while Indigenous stories were traditionally passed down orally, written stories are having a wider reach than ever before.
“The truth is if we as Canadians are going to participate we have to do what’s right and that means educating ourselves,” said David Bouchard, a Metis author.
Anderson has hopes this new bookstore will show how far Canada has come, while also showing a way forward together.
“I believe every book is like a seed of reconciliation. You plant that into the heart of a child or a family,” he said.
“We don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like in 20 years but our hope is our country is going to look very different.”