Barry Shingoose wanted to give Saskatchewan residents a different way to see the sky, and that’s inspired his current project.
Shingoose, an Anishinaabe/Cree teacher, educator and Knowledge Keeper from Cote First Nation in Southeast Saskatchewan, was in Prince Albert on Saturday and Sunday presenting Dancing Sky at the Prince Albert Science Centre
The event uses Shingoose’s travelling planetarium he calls a Star Lodge. He uses it to share stories from the eight years he spent travelling across Western Canada. He said it helps expose residents of all ethnicities to how Indigenous people viewed astronomy and the night sky.
“The main objective for me is to kind of battle with the Doctrine of Discovery,” he explained. “Our people, and specifically the Anishinaabe and the Cree people, we have our ways of looking at the night sky or the sky world.”
Shingoose said it was more than just Romans and Greeks who viewed the sky. He said cultures all around the world viewed the sky in their own way.
“My main objective when I come to places like this is to is to get across the point that there are cultures that all over the world that have their own ways of viewing,” Shingoose said.
“Also, (I’m) doing some research on the side. A lot of the stories, they’re orally told to me, so you can only get those stories from the from the actual person … so my main objective here today is just to demonstrate to the Community of Prince Albert how Anishinaabe Cree people had their own stories and teachings. I link that to different landmarks on the Earth and different stories about the constellations.”
Shingoose is the main facilitator of the Star Lodge project. While in university he was trained by Wilford Buck, an Indigenous star lore expert who also uses a device similar to the Star Lodge.
“He came and brought his planetarium over, trained us, shared stories with us, just gave us the tools and sent us on our own way to do anything,” Shingoose said. “(I) purchased this and ultimately I’m the one who facilitates it.”
The Star Lodge is a digital planetarium that can focus on the sky and zoom into planets. It allows viewers to see different constellations from different views.
“It’s programmed with Ojibway, the Norse, Polynesians, the Māori, the Chinese so it has all those different constellations in there from those cultures,” Shingoose explained.
“I go through them with the people just to kind of depict how other cultures around the world shared their views or have their own.”
On Saturday, presentations included “Understanding Roman and Greek Perspectives: Orion and the Hunting Dogs,” “Ursa Major and Ursa Minor: The Great Bear and the Little Bear” and “Challenging Perceptions: Battling the Doctrine of Discovery,” among others.
On Sunday, the presentations included “Calendar in the Stars: Navigating Time and Space” and “A Cosmic Connection: Indigenous Constellations,” which was also featured on Saturday.
Shingoose said he enjoys sharing information about other cultures that might not be well known for their views of the universe.
” I get people in there right from different cultures. Then after we get to share the stories, or else I learned something from somebody else. I always embrace other cultures within that room,” he said.
Shingoose said it was his first time presenting for the Prince Albert Science Centre but he has been around the province with the Star Lodge.
“We have got First Nation Storytelling Month coming up in February here, so I’m getting booked up pretty well there. The opportunities are constant. This is the only model like this in Saskatchewan,” Shingoose said.