In this picture, a young boy looks out upon a beautifulocean. At first glance, this is a peaceful image. But lookmore closely and you will see that the boy appears to besad. Each day he sits alone, watching the water.
A young walrus happens to swim nearby. He watches andwonders why the boy is always alone and how he could besad when the ocean is so filled with such different andinteresting life.
He asks his motherwhy the boy might beunhappy. She does notknow about peoplechildren, but she doesknow about walruschildren, especially herown watchful son.She suggests that he askGrandfather who is olderand knows more of theworld. Grandfather, afterall, has listened to manystories over many longyears.
So the young walrusswims off happily tofind his grandfather –who pays full attentionto the problem,recognizing the littlewalruss concern andhis kind heart.Grandfather considersthe question carefully.
He decides to give the little walrus an important andunusual present – a special seashell that carries the soundof the ocean, a shell that also carries other voices.If the walrus child listens very closely, he will be able tohear and better understand the boy child.
And this is how the youngwalrus learns why the boyis sad and lonely. He is leftout because he is quiet anddoes not play games. Withcurly, carrot-coloured hair,he even looks different. Hedefinitely does not fit inwith the others.The people children all tryto be like one another, sothey make fun of anyonewho is in any way different.And because they copy oneanothers behaviour, theyall tease the same child –without thinking too muchabout what they are doing.
Why do they do this?Where ever do they learn to act like this?
The kind-hearted youngwalrus feels sorry for theboy. He returns toGrandfather to tell himabout what he has seenand heard. Once again,Grandfather listenscarefully.But this time evenGrandfather does notknow what to do. He isold and wise enough,however, to know thateveryone helping is oftenbetter than just oneworking alone.
This is a problemcalling for many ideasand suggestions – aproblem calling for agathering of the seacreatures.At such a gathering,any creature is allowedto speak and all theothers will listen – forany one of them, greator small, may have avaluable contributionto make.
Grandfather considers it important for the young walrus tobefriend the boy child and talk with him. Dolphin wiselysuggests that the walrus child watch the other children andspeak with them as well. Playful Otter has the idea that theyoung walrus will need a disguise in order to go to school.
Now clever Raven isquick to offer hishelp. This is just thejob for him. Surelyhe can think of away to dress up thewalrus child.Immediately he setsoff, flying about thecountryside,searching hither andyon, taking what isnecessary from hereand there.
When Raven has collected all he needs, he is ready to performhis trick. With a bit of magic – and a bit of help from his friends– he stuffs the young walrus into the people child clothes.
Now the youngwalrus is ready to goto school. But whatshould he do once hegets there? Whatshould he say to theboy child?A long discussionfollows. At last thesea creatures allagree on a plan andonly then is thewalrus child ready toset off on hismission.
When he arrives at the school, he first finds the lonely boyand makes friends with him. Soon he tells the boy all aboutthe sea animals and their ideas. He explains about teasing(which often leads to bullying) and tells the boy what the seacreatures think should be done. He suggests the boy shouldwalk away when someone is making fun of him and try toignore the teasing.
The boy explains thatthis is what he has beendoing and this is why heis always alone. Walrussays perhaps then heshould try talking withthe people children- andif that is too difficult, hemust talk with someoneelse.It is most importantthat he tell someoneabout his problems, orotherwise no one willknow that he needshelp. He must seek helpfrom a teacher oranother adult.
By now the other children notice the walrus child speakingwith the boy. They are surprised that the boy has such anunusual visitor. Drawn by curiosity, they gather closer tosee what is happening.
When they overhear what the walrus child is saying, they areeven more surprised – and for the first time, they begin tothink about their own behaviour.Their thoughts are interrupted when the bell rings and theymust return (very reluctantly) to their classroom. The walruschild is left alone to make his way back to the ocean and thesea creatures who are waiting for him.
The sea animals are veryproud of the youngwalrus child. They areproud of him for payingattention and for noticingthe boy child and thenwanting to help. Theyare pleased that he hadthe courage to talk withthe boy.After cheers for the littlewalrus, anotherdiscussion begins. Nowthe sea creatures decidethat the walrus childshould return one moretime to the school withone more importantmessage for the boy.
The very next morning theyoung walrus cheerfully sets offonce again. He soon finds theboy and learns that he hastalked with his teacher – whodid pay attention. And theteacher talked with thechildren. And there seems tohave been some change, forthe boy is a bit happier.The little walrus delivers onelast suggestion from the seacreatures – the boy must try tolook inside himself for strengthand courage when he feels leftout. After all, he has donenothing wrong, nothing todeserve teasing. He is a specialchild, as is every child. He hashis own talents to contribute.
And besides, how many children are there whohave a walrus for a friend?
It is important that theboy also learn to think forhimself. Then one day hemay be able to helpsomeone else who isfeeling left out.
And the walrus child has provided a perfect example for the boy child to follow.
Walrus’s Gift is in some ways like a Native legend. It speaks of thewisdom of elders, of co-operation among the community, and of asearch for individual inner strength.Animals have always been an important part of native culture.They appear often in stories and legends with characteristics that arerelevant to the story of Walrus’s Gift.DolphinDolphin is the keeper of the power of sacred breath and a protector ofthe weak. Dolphins have long been associated with humans.OtterOtter is a symbol of joy, playfulness, and sharing.EagleEagle represents the power of the Great Spirit, courage, order andharmony. Eagle down is still used as an expression of welcomingfriendship.
RavenRaven is a creator and guardian of magic. He is also amessenger and a trickster, capable of mysticaltransformation.HeronHeron exemplifies self-reliance and inner strength.LoonLoon stands for imagination and the re-awakening of oldhopes and dreams.KingfisherKingfisher represents patience, skill, vision and concernfor community.SalmonSalmon are a symbol of life, of courage and strength, aswell as respect for tradition.
The idea of a walrus talking to children about bullying was thought up by policemanTom Woods.His work eventually grew in the WITS (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help)Program, designed to alleviate teasing and bullying in elementary schools. Thisprogram was developed by Bonnie Leadbeater, PhD, Professor of Psychology at theUniversity of Victoria. It is supported by the Rock Solid Foundation. For moreinformation and teacher guidelines please visit www.witsprogram.ca