The power of a story — or 150 of them

Stories have power. They help us understand the world and connect with each other. They inspire, delight, heal, and bring us together. They are as old as humans and present in every culture. A universal code, a common language. Immortalized into rock, etched onto paper, passed through generations like the most cherished treasures. Stories around campfires, at the kitchen table, over a cup of coffee. Filling up libraries and more recently the blogosphere.

150 stoies collection

We all love stories and we all have a story to tell. So when I was approached to contribute a vignette to a collection published by Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, I was thrilled about this opportunity. The book, called “150 stories“, brings together narratives of 150 people living in Ontario told in 150 words. The number 150 is not coincidental, of course. It is an important year in Canada’s history. My misgivings about the big anniversary bash aside (more on that later), I was delighted and honoured to be able to contribute my own strand to this collective tapestry, even more so when I saw the final result.

150 stoies collection

This small book features an incredibly rich diversity of recollections, reflections, and perspectives told through verse, prose and visuals. Stories of Indigenous people who have been living on this land for tens of thousands of years yet have to fight for their rightful place in our country. Of newcomers searching for their place in the new home. Tales told by famous athletes, writers and artists, political figures, community activists, lawyers, teachers, an astronaut… All those in love with Ontario’s nature, its vibrancy, and its people. I can go on and on. I think your time will be better spent reading them for yourself.

150 stoies collection      150 stoies collection

150 stoies collection       150 stoies collection

My story? I was asked to write about Sleeping Giant. For those who haven’t heard about it, Sleeping Giant is a rock formation on the northern shore of Lake Superior that looks like an enormous figure of a man lying on the ground. We have traveled to Sleeping Giant a couple of times and one of the stories that featured a memorable encounter with a bear appeared on this blog.

150 stoies collection

I could have easily filled pages with tales about Sleeping Giant. Distilling them into 150 words was not as easy. I wanted to reflect not only on the breathtaking beauty of the place but also on the power of the land to collect and preserve stories — stories of the people who have been living there and those just passing through.

In retrospect I couldn’t have picked a better place than Sleeping Giant where the gigantic figure of Nanabijou himself is a magnificent convergence of beauty and storytelling. A narrative set in stone. A collection of stories if you know how to read them.

The 150 stories collection is available online. You can find my contribution here. An accompanying exhibition is currently on display at Queen’s Park where visitors can get a hard copy of the book.

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