Intercultural Sharing through Storytelling

By: Sarah Ferguson October, 2016

It is said that the best way to teach others is to tell a story. By harnessing the power of storytelling and podcasting, a new interactive Story Slam, stories shared by Saskatoon residents during Culture Days will help to ignite cross-cultural understanding.

The Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society (SHFS), partnered with Saskatoon Prairie Prism, a multicultural event which highlights the diversity and mosaic of cultures within the city, present an Interactive Story Slam, bringing together an entertaining mix of storytelling and podcasting.

 “Storytelling is part of how humans communicate, so it’s a major way of transmitting heritage and culture,” explains Kristin Enns-Kavanaugh, executive director, SHFS. “When we share memories [with each other], we create a new, mutual understanding of the past that includes everyone.”

Enns-Kavanaugh partnered with Kevin Power, host and producer of SaskScapes – a podcast features stories about art, culture and heritage in Saskatchewan, to build on the oral storytelling idea. “Kevin approached me about doing an oral history/storytelling podcast,” she explains.  “SHFS has always been a ‘people stories’ organization—personal stories form the core of our Folklore Magazine.  The idea seemed like a great fit.”

Power adds, “The theme of the Story Slam is ‘Life is a story – tell it well”. It aims to be an inter-generational, intercultural sharing experience. It’s similar to a poetry slam, but while they’re competitive, ours is not.”

According to Enns-Kavanaugh, the organizers believe strongly in the power of personal stories to break down stereotypes and create bonds between people from all walks of life.

Some of the stories featured during the Story Slam episode of SaskScapes includes fast-food drive-in antics, Christmas in Nigeria, and the heart break of the judicial system.

“We hope we can create a space where anyone can feel safe. We’ll have some storytellers in the audience to get people going. Every story is okay,” she adds. “It’s an important story if it’s your story.”

Enns-Kavanaugh adds, “A storytelling event like this can have a transformative impact on the participants and their new understanding can have a ripple effect on their lives.”

Power facilitated the open-mike event, which was held at Mount Royal Collegiate, as part of the

SaskScapes series of podcasts, which has subscribers across the globe.  “It’s a true oral archive,” he says.  

Saskatchewan History & Folklore Society receives funding from the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation