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"Like Father Like Son" – by Shaun Anderson


We are pleased to present posts by StoryCenter staff, storytellers, colleagues from partnering organizations, and thought leaders in Storywork and related fields.

"Like Father Like Son" – by Shaun Anderson

Emily Paulos

It was a typical summer day in July, a day when you can smell the breeze coming off the lake and the sun grazes your soul with warmth. We were gathered in the basement of the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement church for the second of three community digital storytelling workshops. I was presented with an opportunity, a moment to sum up my feelings for my recently deceased father.

Walter Anderson was 77, and so lived a full life. Some would call him an Elder because of the wisdom he passed on to everyone he encountered. For me, he was Dad. He gave me the gift of music. He was taken away too soon. I thought, "He was not done his journey. He still had a lot to give and teach."

The first story I intended to write was about my father's achievements with the Alberta Métis Settlements, such as being one of the four signers to bring in the Métis accord (self governance), but as I wrote, I realized there were a lot of details I didn’t know. I wrote "Like Father Like Son" not by conscious choice, but by more of a spiritual intuition. It was something I needed to share to breathe a new light, and to explore more in depth the bond between father and son. So I drifted to something I knew deeply… the story of a boy and his hero, a story about inspiration and coming of age.

The process of writing this material tapped into emotions I had been bottling up inside me since his passing. I have based my whole life on what he taught me – his passion for music, his generosity…

It was very important for me to use my own music in my story (with the exception of "Your Hand In Mine" which was written by Explosions In The Sky), so I included one of my songs written for my dad a couple weeks after his passing, "Father Hero". I wrote that song for him not as a goodbye letter, but more so as a "see you later" letter, a personal healing of closure, and to walk the path that is set out before me. I also felt it meaningful to include one of the songs he wrote that was saved from the hard drive of our recording session, so I used "Waltz of the Rose" which was a song Dad wrote for my mother, Rose Anderson. That’s me on acoustic guitar, accompanying him on the song.

Looking back, making "Like Father Like Son," I was in an emotional trance – suspended between my past and the future. Before making my digital story I felt caught between the path I had already walked and the path that lay ahead. Making my digital story gave me a way to capture what I was feeling into something visual. It allowed me an outlet, a way to move forward. Like my dad told me, "Son, when you have passion, you have a gift, and if you use that gift properly, you can change the world."