Greetings! I had the distinct privilege of doing a presentation to a group of students and staff in the Adult Basic Education Department of the Native Education College in November, 2011. What follows is a word for word account of some of the participants experience- their letters, reprinted with their permission. The presentation began with an introduction to myself, my back ground, and up-bringing; this naturally leads into story-telling with every word and action coming from my heart, from my soul. Sometimes I'll open a presentation with a song or two, other times the songs and poetry will just naturally fit themselves in, into the process at the most appropriate of times. Regardless of the format, the outcome is always the same: with many being affected powerfully by my words, stories, poetry, songs, and experience- to the point of tears; and others crying excessively from the beginning to the end as they live their present or past experiences through every word that I speak. At other times there is pure laughter, joy- as somehow, through the impeding darkness, light and life always finds their way through. I've been very blessed to share such gifts; even more blessed that I can instill hope, joy, and inspiration to others outside of me: without you- there would be no me. From the very depths of my heart: Thank You!
Here are the letters:
Dear Mr. Barton,
This letter is to express my utmost gratitude toward your wonderful guest speaker presentation. I was deeply moved by your story, I very much related to a lot of what you had to say. Sadly, some of this was all too common along the BC coast and affected my family as well. Also, I am a recovering addict with six months clean. I enjoyed every bit of your presentation and actually caught myself humming one of your tunes yesterday! Keep up the great work and I am sure you will inspire many more people as you have inspired me.
Sincerely, CS: Student: Native Education College.
I wanted to say thank you for coming to NEC. Also, I would like to thank you for sharing your songs and stories. I really enjoyed your song, "Your Presence". I was also touched by the story about your mother. I can relate when you saw that lady with long hair floating off the ground. I can relate because I live on my reserve and get spooked all the time by things. I just wanted to say thank you again and it would be a great honor for you to come to NEC again to listen to your stories and songs.
Sincerely, TW: Student: Native Education College.
Dear Godwin Barton,
Thank you so much for coming in and talking to me and my classmates about yourself, it meant a lot to me. It's rare that I enjoy listening to someone elses life story, but I found myself captivated in yours. You come from a hard up-bringing and over-came it and for that I respect you to the maximum. I've heard bits and pieces about the things that happened inside the residential schools from my grandmother whom recently passed away. I can't even imagine going through what you and your siblings went through. I just wanted you to know that I am very thankful you came and I respect you big time.
From, ML: Student: Native Education College.
I was really touched by your performance and stories. I want to thank you for coming in and sharing your life experiences with us. I am so thankful that you came in and I love your song "Your Presence". I love your voice and I love that you have the courage to share these stories and songs while dealing through life's struggles- and you have made it. You are a survivor, a hero, and you are blessed with an incredible, one of a kind talent and I am glad you made it...to share your life with us. I want to say, hold on to your talent no matter what happens. You will always be a present to the world and a fabulous singer. Never give up because I could see in you that you are a strong, independent singer and you are God's gift to life, existence, to the world, and especially to me!
Thank you for giving us the chance to meet the great Godwin Barton!!
Your presence is the best gift I have ever had and your presence will live on.
RJ: Student: Native Eduction College.
Post Script: This letter was accompanied by a simple, yet powerful drawing of a butterfly- flying amidst a setting sun with its refection perfectly mirrored in the water. Why is this significant? The butterfly was the symbol of my high school graduation in 1981. Its message: "The Transformation".
Thank you very much for coming to the Native Education College to share your wonderful songs, poetry, and stories. Your music has a great heart beat to it and the lyrics touched many of us listening to you. The story about your childhood confrontation with your father was so vivid; I felt as if I were right there, especially when you told us about how you reconciled with him and hugged him for 15 minutes while he told you he was sorry over and over again. You were also so kind to hand out your CDs at the end of the class. What an accomplishment: to be such an energetic and creative person who has written so many poems, tells many stories, and brings the printed word to life in a song!
Thank you. WS: Instructor: Native Education College.
Thank you for your wonderful story-telling and musical performance at NEC. I love the sound of your music and found your stories so moving. You are truly a gifted story-teller and musician.
It is amazing to see how far you have come after experiencing such difficult life experiences. It is important for Aboriginal students to be inspired by strong Aboriginal role models. I am so glad that the students were able to hear your life story and learn about your success as a published writer, story-teller and musician.
A number of the students who attended your performance made presentations about it in other classes. Sarah, FCC 110 "Academic English" instructor told me that two of her students did a wonderful presentation. These students described your visit by re-telling some of your stories and played your music from the CD you kindly gave to several students in the audience. One of the students told me that she was so touched by your performance that she cried when she described it to her classmates.
Thank you again for your visit! I really appreciate your time and effort and I am so glad that you were able to come.
Kindest regards, CA: Literacy Coordinator: Native Education College.
This was written in a card:
Thank you for your wonderful visit! You are such a gifted story-teller. It is amazing that you are able to have the audience in tears one minute and laughing in the next. A number of the students told me that they were moved by your presentation. Some students who were not able to attend your visit heard about it from their classmates. They asked me to be sure to let them know if you visit NEC again in the near future.
Your visit to the college was a special treat and we're really grateful for your time and effort.
Thank you again Godwin!
Warmest regards, CA.
From me! Thank you NEC! You will always be mine; and I will always be yours! Sincerely, Godwin.