Third, after gathering kindling, twigs and logs, we "Build a Fire". We take the new understandings and new knowledge and create something original, something warm, something powerful, something challenging, something beautiful, something thought-provoking. We "do the human being magic" and utilize the infinite possibilities of our creativity.

As we pull on the individual threads of Canada's multicultural patchwork we begin to unravel some of the mythology that surrounds Canada.
When we are brought face to face with stories and facts that challenge longstanding beliefs, it is normal to experience a certain amount of mental stress or discomfort. Psychologists call this uncomfortable feeling "cognitive dissonance" and view it as a powerful force in human nature - as strong as the need to satisfy basic survival needs such as thirst, hunger, and comfort.

It may not be easy to deal with what you have just learned and it is not uncommon for cognitive dissonance to include emotional expressions of anger, disbelief, sadness, guilt, and bitterness. However, these are negative ways to resolve dissonance and they normally result in avoidance and close-mindedness. Instead, Buffy Sainte-Marie tells us what to do with these feelings:

"You know some information can be really hard to deal with including the treatment of Indigenous people throughout the world. You can get paralyzed with guilt if you’re white; you can get paralyzed with bitterness if you’re Native. There’s some people will tell you to just throw that all away, but me, I think that guilt and bitterness are two sides of the same coin, and I don’t think you should throw it away at all. I think about those ancient people walking out on the prairie, picking up that dried buffalo chips; you know that’s manure. Now modern people might think of that as negativity. But our ancestors knew what to do with that stuff. They knew how to use that stuff for fuel. For the magic that only human creatures can do. Turn it into fuel and make fire.

Now, what do we do when we make fire?We create light. We create heat.You can fall in love across the fire.You can read a book beside a fire;you can write a book beside a fire.You can build a community around a fire.You can cook up something really good.
Or, instead you can take that negativity,that manure, that guilt, that bitterness,and you can use it like fertilizer and grow something brand new.But don’t spread it on your face like make-up.Don’t use it like a badge of identity.“I’m the bitterest thing in the whole world.”"I’m so guilty I can’t function.”And don’t eat it.
Burn it like fuel.Do the human being magic.
So... your third task is to build a fire - to take your feelings and newfound knowledge and create something beautiful.

  • You might want to write a poem of your own, a poem speaking back to the poet you just listened to, a poem situating yourself within this poet's world, as the poet has situated herself or himself in your world.

  • You might want to draw or paint or sculpt, do some visual research, say something that only an image can say.

  • You might want to contribute to our "One Story at a Time" wiki by finding another "story". You may want to connect with or access some allies to help you develop the background information. Then, contact the wiki-administrators and work with us to publish it on this site.

  • You might want to make a diagram of privilege or power relationships, considering where you, your family, your friends fit in. Maybe you'll write a letter or visit your member of parliament and share what you've learned about a piece of Canadian identity. Maybe you'll have a conversation at the dinner table and consider what you can do with this new information.

  • You might want to set up some improv prompts with your favorite drama teacher, based on your feelings and newfound knowledge, and see what an improv troupe might learn together and teach one another.

  • You might want to go on a walk or a march in memory of the story you have recently witnessed. You might want to create your own walk with friends or take a silent vigil. You may want to run in a marathon and dedicate it to the people in the story. You can share what you're doing, or you can honour them silently. Either way, this walk, march or run will be a time to think, and it just may inspire you to some new way of "walking" in our Canada.

  • You may want to develop an affirmation to use in a meditation, to use in between deep breathing -- no really, just try it -- an affirmation of peace, kindness, joy and forgiveness. You may find a local meditation group and share your guided affirmation with them. Then, sit in and listen to others' who practice guided meditation. Perhaps there is something to learn about peace that will inspire a future Canada.

  • You may use one of these prompts, or create a prompt of your own. In negotiations with your teacher, set a goal using the holistic rubric provided. Discuss the amount of time you will be given in class and the time you can commit to out of class. Throughout the project, keep in communication with your teacher regarding meeting your intended goal. At the end of your project, self-evaluate your success and let your teacher know what mark you consider fair. If you and the teacher agreed on the goal, the corresponding mark, and benchmarks along the way, both you and the teacher will most-likely arrive at a similar mark.

Be reminded that the struggles of the past and present are the context in which we create the Canada of tomorrow.


Buffy Sainte Marie ends her speech by singing one of her songs -- a piece of art -- making something beautiful around the fire.

Here’s a song for those of you who already knew all that. This is a song for all our generations past – no matter where they came from. And all our generations yet to come.

“Starwalker” by Buffy Sainte-MarieStarwalker he’s a friend of mineYou’ve seen him looking fineHe’s a straight talker, he’s a starwalkerDon’t drink no wine, hey-hey-a-hey-a-hey
Wolf Rider she’s a friend of yours.You’ve seen her opening doors.She’s a history turner, she’s a sweet grass burner,And a dark soldier, hey-a-hey-a-hey
Holy light, guard the night.Pray up your medicine song – ohStraight dealer, you’re a spirit healerKeep going on, hey-hey-a-hey-a-hey.
Lightening Woman, Thunderchild,Star soldiers one and all,Oh sisters, brothers, all together, oh,Aim straight, stand tall.