Kung Jaadee (Roberta Kennedy) is a professional Indigenous storyteller, educator (BA and BEd) and published author who has been telling stories for 30-plus years across Canada. She belongs to the X̱aayda (Haida), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Tlingit, Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and is also part Hawaiian. She was born and raised on Haida Gwaii and is from the Yaguu’laanaas Raven Clan.
Her Haida name, Kung Jaadee, means ‘Moon Woman’ and was presented to her at her great uncle’s memorial feast by her cousin Crystal Robinson. Her Aunt Leialoha gave her the name “Hi’ilawe,” in reference to the most famous Hawaiian waterfall on the Big Island.
Over the past three decades, Kung Jaadee has performed traditional Haida legends, while also sharing vivid personal stories about her clan's survival of the smallpox epidemic, and the history and culture of her people. She has performed at hundreds of festivals, schools and Aboriginal celebrations across Canada. She is also the author of the popular children's books, Raven's Feast and Gifts from Raven (selected as a Local BC Book to Read), as well as the textbooks, Haida Nation: Indigenous Communities in Canada and We Are Home. Her stories have also been published in several anthologies, magazines and online publications. In recent years, Kung Jaadee also worked as the Vancouver Public Library's Indigenous Storyteller in Residence.
Since relocating to the Lower Mainland, Kung Jaadee has learned Squamish legends from her uncle Bob Baker (S7aplek, Hawaiian name is Lanakila).
Kung Jaadee claims “storytelling chose her” and loves to share her gift of storytelling with people of all ages across Turtle Island.
Storytelling & Keynote Performances
Haida Stories - Live Performance
In her live storytelling performance, Kung Jaadee shares her telling of a few famous Haida legends about Raven (Yaahl), the creator of the world, and their universal teachings. Enjoy the stories of “Raven Brings the Water,” Raven’s Brings the Light” and “Raven's Feast.” She also shares some traditional Raven songs while using her drum, teaches some basic words in X̱aad Kil (Haida language), and shows her traditional regalia. Includes a Q&A to discuss Haida culture, traditions and history.
Grade suitability: K-12
Capacity: entire school
Duration: 45 minutes + 15-min Q&A session; option of 2-3 smaller group sessions per day
Squamish Stories - Live
In her live storytelling performance, Kung Jaadee will share her telling of Squamish legends popularized by Indigenous activist and poet E. Pauline Johnson's book, "Legends of Vancouver." The legends she'll share may include Siwash Rock; Lost Lagoon; the Two-Headed Sea Serpent; The Two Sisters (The Lions mountains); How the Salmon Came to the Squamish People; The Great Flood Story; and How the Squamish People Came To Be. Includes a Q&A. Inquire for flexible pricing for multiple shows/day.
Grade suitability: K-12
Capacity: Entire school
Duration: 45 minutes + 15-min Q&A session
ReconciliACTION Workshop with Kung Jaadee
First Nations storyteller, author and educator Kung Jaadee will lead students in an engaging workshop on how to create their own ReconciliACTION plans. Belonging to the Haida, Squamish and Musqueam nations, Kung Jaadee grew up in Haida Gwaii off reserve and attended public schools in Massett. During her childhood, she experienced overt racism at school and was bullied by settler students who called her names and projected stereotypes onto her and other Haida kids. Through her journey into adulthood and her work as a storyteller and teacher over the past 30 years, she has learned to love herself and embrace her Indigenous cultures, traditions and histories. In this workshop, she will lead a thoughtful discussion dispelling the stereotypes that have been placed upon Indigenous people for generations. She will summarize the key points of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and discuss the Calls to Actions and the 6 Actions of ReconciliACTION: To Learn, Understand, Explore, Recognize, Take Action, and Teach Others. Using the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s ReconciliACTION plan template, students will work with Kung Jaadee to create their own actionable plan to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination, while also promoting tolerance, understanding and good relations with indigenous peoples.
Capacity: 30 students
Length: 60-90 minutes depending on grade and number of students. She can lead 4-5 sessions per day as determined with school.
Recommended classroom pre-reading requirement and discussion:
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; 6 Actions of ReconciliACTION; Calls to Action
Keynote Presentation - Haida history, stories and songs
During Kung Jaadee's keynote presentation, she will share about the rich cultural traditions and history of the Haida, along with some Raven songs and stories. She'll also share the amazing story of her great great great grandmother Isabella's survival of the last smallpox epidemic in 1862. At the time, four-year-old Isabella and her cousin Amy were the only two survivors of the epidemic and are the reason the Yaguu'laanaas Raven Clan still exists today.
Virtual Haida Stories & Squamish Stories Programs on Arts IQ
Haida Stories & Squamish stories are also available as virtual programs with professionally pre-recorded videos that can be licensed for the entire school year, along with a virtual artist visit as an add on. To learn more about Kung Jaadee's virtual program available to teachers and schools, visit artsiq.ca/kung-jaadee.
Published Books: Raven's Feast & Gifts from Raven
After the Raven (Yaahl) had finished creating the world, he realized that he was lonely. So he invited the whole world to join him in Haida Gwaii for the greatest feast you could ever imagine. At the end of the Feast each person, from all 4 sacred directions, was given a special gift that would change their lives forever! Order books from Medicine Wheel Education here
“...balm for the soul, enthralling, highly recommended...”
“Raven causes magic...[Kung Jaadee's] compelling delivery keeps her audience enraptured with these magical tales...a wonderful show, and perfect for two-leggeds of all ages.”
“Four Stars. Kung Jaadee's voice is well practised, an authoritative tone of high seriousness that she betrays with a whimsical grin, perfect for telling stories. She has the kind of voice that makes you want to curl up by the fire and learn, eyes up to the heavens looking for Raven overhead.”
“[Kung Jaadee] creates beautiful scenes in the imaginations of listeners young and old about a time when the animals were mankind's teachers.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“I highly recommend this experience to everyone. The audience I was part of spanned at least six decades, and Kung Jaadee kept us all rapt.”
—The Jenny Revue, Winnipeg
“You were awesome at school today. You have an awesome singing voice, very talented. Thank you for sharing your rich culture with us. We are truly blessed for the opportunity to listen to your stories.”
“Kung Jaadee is a compelling storyteller. Her performance weaves together traditional Haida stories, songs, and contemporary Haida life. She will introduce you to a magnificent culture that has survived difficult times and is now being restored to its rightful place. You'll laugh with her, you might cry a little bit, and you will come away with a deeper understanding of the power of art, myth and tradition.”