Back among Educators @ETFO #FallLeadership

The Sultans of String at ETFO My dear friend and official Six String Nation photographer, Doug Nicholson, and I have had the thrill of taking our presentation and portrait booth to festivals and music industry events in every province and territory of Canada and as far away as Italy. With help from the National Speakers Bureau, we've felt as at home presenting to conferences of surveyors and health information management professionals as we have to financial cooperatives and tourism organizations. But the bread and butter that sustains the Six String Nation project is presentations in schools, so any chance to present to educators is one we treasure - at PD days and conferences and curriculum forums and subject seminars and history fairs and principals' meetings, you name it. And if we get a chance to do portraits with teachers and let them know that they really are part of the project in a big way... well, even better; which is why it was so great to follow up on an earlier gathering of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario in Ottawa with last week's ETFO Fall Leadership gathering in Mississauga. The event brought together members from all across the province - including some just embarking on their teaching careers. And while some in attendance had seen me at other events over the years, it was great to introduce a whole new generation of teachers to the Six String Nation project and (hopefully) inspire them to want to bring me to their schools to share the project with their students and their communities. And, in my nerdy way, it was great to meet some of the people I've only heard about or seen on the news, like ETFO president Sam Hammond!

The reception was phenomenal - not only in the room for the presentation but at the portrait station afterwards, at the book signing table and over a beer at the end of the night, where I was privileged to get to know a few of these educators from around the province of Ontario dedicated to creating great learning environments and experiences for young students.

The great reception extended to the musical guests who brought Voyageur to life at the end of the presentation too. I'd worked with both Chris McKhool (pictured, left) and Kevin Laliberte (pictured, centre) on previous occasions but not in this particular configuration of the Sultans of String, where Chris played Voyageur for one song and switched to violin as he handed off the guitar to Kevin - joined by Drew Birston (pictured, right) on bass - for their virtuosic and evocative performance of Luna - a kind of instrumental storytelling of the Mowachaht and Muchalaht tale of one particularly legendary orca. We didn't record the performance but you can watch the official video (with orchestral accompaniment!) here.

Thanks so much to ETFO's Jim Giles for bringing us to the event and to ETFO members Valerie Dugale and Suzanne Gill for great assistance at the portrait booth. Special thanks also to Jeff Burnham of - a specialty indigenous bookstore from Six Nations - who handled book sales with enthusiasm and aplomb AND provided me with some welcome background and detail on the recent addition to Voyageur's case, the vintage Enos Williams lacrosse stick webbing now cradling the headstock pillow.

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