Augustana Medium and Spirit of the Land hosted Storyteller Cafe

Stories, as a way to build our world and change how we see the world around us, was the focus of this year's Spirit of the Land conference featuring a Storyteller Cafe event.

Tia Lalani - 23 October 2018

By Melissa Wilk, Augustana Medium

I began to reflect on the importance of storytelling while taking an Indigenous philosophy course last year. Thomas King's "The Truth About Stories" was on our assigned reading list and it was not long before I was writing a 15-page paper about my identity, my stories and what I thought was a newly found truth.

I learned that our collective consciousness is a string of vibrant stories that have the power to change how we perceive the world around us. Stories build our culture, ideologies, beliefs and values. Without them, we would be nothing.

As the Editor-in-Chief of the Augustana Medium, I've always been a fan of hearing stories, putting them into words and shaping them into an accessible format. Yet, though I value the power of the media and journalism, I've come to realize that we often do not take time to listen to people's stories in an intentional way.

This is where the Storyteller Cafe comes in.

The Storyteller Cafe is inspired by a similar initiative. Tipi Confessions, created by BedPost Confessions, was started to help decolonize sexuality and to encourage sex-positivity through angles of humour and vulnerability. Tipi Confessions is informed by Indigenous experiences and perspectives on relationships, sexuality and gender. Though the Storyteller Cafe follows a different theme, the impetus for holding such an event is the same-to share stories.

As part of the 7th Annual Spirit of the Land Conference and in partnership with the Chester Ronning Centre, we facilitated a Storyteller Cafe on Oct. 27 starting at 7:00 pm in the Wahkohtowin Lodge. Students, community members and faculty came to take part in this event.

The Storyteller Cafe invites people to share stories with each other in a circular setting. It encourages intentional conversations within large groups of people. It's a way to build community, trust, respect and to expand understandings about our lives and the experiences of others. People came to share a story, came to listen and came to enjoy. As Maya Angelou said "there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

The Storyteller Cafe was co-hosted by the Chester Ronning Centre and the Augustana Medium.

This article was originally posted in the Augustana Medium on October 2, 2018.