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Victoria Storyteller's Guild: Ivan Coyote

Mollie Kaye
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“WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES in order to live.” Joan Didion said this, and it’s not hyperbole. Brain scientists, behavioural psychologists, and spiritual gurus all concur that storytelling is a fundamental aspect of our human experience. It’s the way we make meaning and sense of our experiences, how we learn and teach. There is both huge value and darkness inherent in the way we frame and tell our stories. Depression, at its root, is directly connected to stories we tell ourselves—as is every peak experience we celebrate.

The fact that there’s a local organization dedicated to the conscious art of telling stories shouldn’t be a surprise, then, but perhaps you didn’t know about the Victoria Storyteller’s Guild (VSG), or that they are now celebrating 30 years. Victoria Cownden, a member for two decades, says the group holds a meeting at the Quaker Hall on Fern Street on the third Friday evening of each month. “People can come and try it,” she encourages, saying the group is welcoming and supportive. “A story is a story. You can make doing the laundry a story. Everybody has a story,” she says. “We serve a nice tea party during the break.”

The group sponsors workshops and concerts where professional storytellers offer their craft and inspire others. This year’s VSG-sponsored concert, featuring award-winning Vancouver transgender author and storyteller Ivan Coyote, has particular cultural relevance.



Ivan Coyote


Coyote’s most famous book, Tomboy Survival Guide, got long-listed for Canada Reads. “Ivan is well known, and the press is quite positive,” says Cownden. “Ivan is a storyteller first, [with] the ability for their stories to transform the world and make it a better place. When you know a person’s story, it’s pretty hard to judge them.”


7:30pm, The Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Avenue. Call 250-385-6815 or see tickets.belfry.bc.ca

—Mollie Kaye

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