Living Stories

Godi Weghàà Ets' eèda

By (author) Therese Zoe, Philip Zoe & Mindy Willett
Photographs by Tessa Macintosh
Categories: Children's Nonfiction
Series: The Land is Our Storybook
Publisher: Fifth House Publishers
Hardcover : 9781897252444, 32 pages, February 2009

2011 Storytelling World Award Honor Book -Special Storytelling Resources category

First Nation Communities Read Nominee 2010


In Living Stories, Therese Zoe translates the stories and traditional wisdom of Tlicho Elders Philip Zoe and Elizabeth Chocolate.

Therese Zoe is a Tlicho woman from Gamèti in the Northwest Territories. She is a community health representative, a mother and grandmother, as well as a champion of ancestral skills and stories. In Living Stories, Therese shares her love for her community and translates the sacred stories and traditional wisdom of her brother-in-law, Philip Zoe, and his sister, Elizabeth Chocolate. As Therese writes, “You might look at our lands and think they are empty, but we do not go hungry. The land gives us our food and our shelter. It holds our stories and our histories. It gives us everything we need. ”

Join Tlicho young people, Shelinda, Forest, and Bradley, as they learn about making dry-fish, bows and arrows, and birch-bark baskets; the practices of old-time healers; as well as the sacred stories that tell the history of the Tlicho people. Some of the stories Philip relates in this book have never been written down before – his versions of sacred stories are a gift to young readers across Canada, to be used wisely. The Tlicho Nation was the first in the Northwest Territories to gain self-government. With Elders such as Philip and Elizabeth passing along their traditional wisdom to the young, as well as knowledge gained since the Tlicho first encountered European peoples, the Tlicho are showing how they are, “strong like two people. ”

The Land Is Our Storybook is a first-ever series of ten books for children about the diverse lands and cultures of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Mindy Willett, an educational consultant and former teacher from Yellowknife, has worked with storytellers-Elders and cultural leaders-from ten regions in the territory to capture real stories of everyday life as it exists today. Told in a uniquely diverse range of northern voices, with a child-centred approach, books in The Land Is Our Storybook series highlight each official Aboriginal language group in the NWT, revealing a richly textured picture of life in the North-on the trapline, around the campfire, in communities, at school, and within the outdoor school that is the land itself. The series celebrates the seasons, ages, genders, traditional activities, and communities of the NWT. The stories are illustrated by the striking images of acclaimed northern photographer, Tessa Macintosh and depict the similarities in lifestyle between children of the North and South, as well as the marked cultural differences, and highlight the special relationship these First Nations people have with the land and how they are adapting to rapid change while remaining connected to the land. Images of the landscape and animals within it, of trapping, hunting, fishing, and bannock baking sit alongside pictures of children at school, swimming at recreation centres, and reading in libraries. Here is modern northern culture painted beautifully: a complex mix of the new and the old.

These wonderful books, written with a variety of provincial and territorial curricula in mind, are specially designed for the classroom and include special features such as glossaries relating details on animals biology and cultural definitions, regional and language maps. The text of the stories also have sidebars such as Our Stories, which contain the stories of the people and language group featured, and Our Words, which highlight words in the featured language that are important to the story.

The first two books in this ground-breaking series were published in Spring 2008 and are suitable for grades four to eight. The tenth and final book in the series will come with a CD of stories told in the languages featured in the books and a teacher’s guide for the entire series.


"Living Stories is a heartfelt tribute to the culture of the Tlicho* or Dogrib nation. . . All of the information is presented in a very personal way so that young readers unfamiliar with the first nations culture in the north can realize this is a real way of life for some people, not something from 'long ago and far away'. . . Photographer Tessa Macintosh, a southerner whose children are Tlicho, has done a wonderful job of including pictures of the land and the people, some posed to represent the subject under discussions, many in cheerful candid shots.
CM Magazine