When it comes to what’s important in life, Trudy Spiller believes family is everything.
Growing up the third youngest of nine siblings, Spiller lived in a three-room house with no bathroom, electricity or running water. To bring the young family together, Spiller’s grandmother would light a lamp, and tell stories from the Gitxsan Nation, which Spiller is from.
After storytime, her grandmother would say “I’ve given you my knowledge, you’re my knowledge keepers. You know the stories so you can pass them along to your children.”
Now, the 61-year-old Colwood resident is doing just that with the release of her latest children’s book.
Trudy’s Rock Story, which includes illustrations by Jessika von Innerebner, teaches kids what to do with their anger. It’s about a girl who – instead of lashing out – goes for a walk, finds a rock and diverts her negative energy into the rock, which she later buries as a way of letting go of her anger.
“There are so many children who don’t know what to do with their anger. They don’t know who to talk to or they don’t want to talk to someone so they use angry actions,” said Spiller, who has been making presentations to students across the Sooke School District about traditional Gitxsan plants, medicine, food and dress for more than three years. She usually ends the presentations by giving each student a rock to divert their energy if necessary.
“We divert that negative energy into the rock, hold it until you’re ready to give it back, it might be a few days it might be a long time, but always knowing the rock is something you can give back to mother earth and that mother earth will deal with all of that negative energy.”
Spiller believes in today’s hectic society, many families don’t get to spend as much quality time together. She hopes her book will teach children to talk to their parents when they’re upset and therefore bring families closer together.
“We need to go back to the old ways and talk to kids, and find other ways to deal with anger, sadness and loss,” she said.
“Family means being a family and talking as a family rather than trying to get a couple of minutes of family time in between TV, iPads and computers.”
Trudy’s Rock Story can be found online at medicinewheel.education.