Vancouver – City of Stories

What a weekend!

Friday morning set the tone with the keynote speaker at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SIWC). At the very same time, the Vancouver Writers Festival was in full swing, hosting 100+ authors from around the globe.

We are a city of storytellers!

But why?

At one of SIWC’s workshops (put on by The Creative Academy), presenters Eileen Cook and Crystal (CJ) Hunt asked the question “why” to the class of participants.

That is, why do we tell stories? Any of us?

Thanks to the SIWC keynote address by Daniel Heath Justice, a Cherokee Nation professor of First Nations Studies at the University of British Columbia, I know.

Stories, whether they’re personal stories, fictional stories, or the stories we learn about our neighbors or our cities, connect us.

If we visit Athen’s Acropolis, or Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, or London’s Kensington Palace, it’s one thing to experience the smells and sights and textures of these places. Beyond these sensory highlights, it’s the stories that give these places meaning and context.

Thomas King said, “The Truth about stories is that that’s all we are.”

Stories shape our relationships, they connect us to others and to ourselves. When we don’t have stories, we don’t have context… individually or as a city.

So why do I personally want to tell stories about Vancouver, my home city?

It’s for all these reasons.

When I know the Guinness family built the Lion’s Gate Bridge, I feel connected to Ireland (and beer).

When I learn about the 10,000+ years of continuous civilization by the First Nations where Stanley Park now sits, I feel a connection with the past.

When I discover Vancouver was a major stop on the Vaudeville circuit back in the 1920s, I’m connected to a whole other era of performers, from Houdini to the Marx Brothers.

And all these connections make Vancouver come alive. They give a sense of time and place to a city that’s changing faster than a speeding cyclist.

Our stories, the stories of Vancouver, bring a sense of shared community. And not just within city limits, but with the world.

Surrey International Writers’ Conference

The Creative Academy

Daniel Heath Justice

Vancouver Writers Festival