Local elder and public figure Theresa ‘Corky’ Larsen-Jonasson can now add the title of author to her impressive list of community roles after recently publishing her first book, The Sharing Circle.
The Sharing Circle is a children’s book, written by Larsen-Jonasson and illustrated by Jessika Von Innerebner published through Medicine Wheel Education. Corky – as she prefers to be known – said she’s been overwhelmed with the support from her community since the public announcement of the project and most recently, the official book launch.
“I was a little nervous to write the book at first because we’re talking about sacred, old teachings. You’re not always going to please everybody, but you want to do good by your elders and I believe I’ve done that,” she said.
Corky said she’s always wanted to write a book and after some deliberation with her husband, family and friends, she quietly got to work on the project.
The story focuses on two foxes who become involved in an argument, affecting their community in the process. In order to heal from their misunderstanding, a friend takes the two foxes to an Elder owl who hosts the sharing circle.
“In the process of the sharing circle, there is listening, respect and resolution,” explained Corky.
“In formative years children need to learn how to use their voice and how to use it in balance, not in anger. One of the magical things of the circle is that it gives a voice to people who don’t feel like they have one. There is safety and respect and confidentiality in a circle and that sometimes makes it easier for people to learn how to use their voices.”
Corky said she has seen the circle work in many situations, and values the potential that circles create for young people. She says it’s a great way for people to learn how to voice their stories while listening to others with a genuine investment that creates resolution.
“I’m excited that a really good way of teaching might be used in situations of bullying, home life, teams and more,” she said.
“Also, I hope people – young people especially – can learn to use their voices but not just in a place of anger. We have enough anger in the world anyway.”
An official book launch was held Oct. 15th at The Hub on Ross. Corky was joined by members of her family and community to share the story publicly for the first time, selling out of all available copies.
“I thought people would trickle in one or two at a time, take a look at the book and maybe buy it, with me signing a couple, but really it turned into kind of a party,” she laughed.
Corky said she’s got a special place in her heart for children and youth, so being able to share teachings and time with them was an incredible experience.
In addition to working on the book over the last year, Corky is involved in a number of community programs. She serves as a member of the National Collective of the Walking With Our Sisters missing and murdered Indigenous women awareness movement and is a local leader within Red Deer’s Red Feather Women.
As well, she is a member of the Urban Aboriginal Voices Women’s Council and works with the Red Deer Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Network.
She says her work within all of these platforms is about making a better community for her family and for the upcoming generation to thrive in.
“I’m starting to get a good sense of my own mortality. When you’re young, you feel like you have all the time in the world but as I get older, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to make things better. I want the generation following me to be better equipped to handle the things they need to go through.”
Continuing, she said, “It’s about the circle of life that keeps going. There is going to be a time when young people have to step up and tackle issues we’re working on now. I want to know what I’ve done to make it easier on them so they don’t have to keep arguing about the same issues and can do it in a better way.”
She said although the book is geared toward a younger audience and for use in schools, she hopes the message can spread further within the community.
“There have been many places I’ve seen circles work in our community and places I believe it would work if given a chance. Our local Friendship Centre has been approached many times to host circles and it’s been a really good experience. I’ve seen circles work with the wellness and sobriety groups in Red Deer, for helping each person towards their healing in addictions – those circles are amazing. People often come in not even making eye contact and by the end they are teaching others,” she said thoughtfully.
The book is currently sold out of hard copies, but is available online through medicinewheel.education.