Storytellers from across the country converge on Summerside

Brett Poirier
Published on July 6, 2014
Jennifer Ferris practices telling a story to Marlene Campbell before speaking in front of members from the Storytellers of Canada group. 
Brett Poirier/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE — They might tell stories, but they’re much more than just storytellers.

“Stories explain something very deep in the heart of human experience,” said Jennifer Ferris, the past president of Storytellers of Canada. “Stories explain what is at the heart of our being.”

Storytellers from across Canada were on Prince Edward Island last week to share their stories with one another.

The annual event consists of workshops, meetings, and storytelling circles.

Members of the group travelled to the Island on their own dollar.

“It can be an expensive trip for those who live far away,” said Ferris. “But we always have an incredible time telling our stories and exploring the landscape, so the trip’s are worth it.”

Most of the storytellers are visiting P.E.I. for the first time. So far, they love it.

“The Island is so beautiful,” added Ferris. “The people are so friendly here, too. One man came up to me and some other storytellers to say ‘hi’ one day.”

The group of storytellers had busy itinerary while on the Island.

“The schedules were packed with events,” said Marlene Campbell, cultural program co-ordinator with Culture Summerside. “Each member picked between a trip to North Cape, Cavendish or Charlottetown for Island excursions with local historians and storytellers.”

Members of the group can choose the types of stories they tell — some choose fiction and some non-fiction. Kathy Jessup is sticking to the facts.

She tells a story about her uncle.

“When the Alaska highway was being built he was one of the few white men that helped guide the American army to find the route for the highway,” said Jessup.

Her story explains the harsh climates and working conditions that people had to endure when building the Alaskan highway over 70 years ago.

“The story ends with him surviving a grizzly bear attack.”

Jessup has been writing for years.

“I write a lot of stories for children and then craft them into stories I can tell to adults.”

She spends time working with teachers to educate them on the most effective ways to tell a story to students.

The group officially wrapped up its stay on P.E.I. Sunday, but some will be hanging around a little longer.

Ferris said she’ll be extending her stay and will make a vacation out of it.

“The conference gives us the opportunity to travel all across Canada and experience new things. The Island is a great source for stories.”