Deep lessons from "simple" stories with Kwantlen storyteller Joseph A. Dandurand

The path to become a storyteller isn't easy. As Joseph A. Dandurand recalled the starting point of his writing, he connected it to his history of severe manic depression.

“I never really knew what was wrong with me,” said Dandurand, “then I just start writing."

Dandurand is the Vancouver Public Library's (VPL) 2019 Indigenous Storyteller in residence. His VPL launch event was the very first of its type, and Dandurand grabbed the heart of the audience by his vivid and unique stories.

Dandurand is not only a talented storyteller, but a successful writer. His outstanding achievements shine in a variety of written fields including novels and plays, all targeting a wide range of generations. He also works as a manager of Kwantlen First Nation Cultural Centre, a fisherman and a father of three.

During the event, Dandurand described how his depression gave him inspiration to write, incorporating the teachings of his ancestors into his stories.

“Our teachings are very simple … Because we don't write things down, it's just oral tradition repeated. ... Someone said 'do things with a good mind and good heart,' — that's all we teach children today, the same simple teachings.”

He also shared few of his original stories during the event. As Dandurand’s voice filled the venue, the audience was united.

One story, “The Magical Sturgeon”, is about two sisters catching a huge sturgeon in the river. The river, upset that they had eaten all of the offering bread while they were waiting for the sturgeon to show up, took the younger sister instead. When the older sister gave the sturgeon’s bones back to the river, the river sent her sister back. The story illustrated the importance of showing appreciation to nature.

The audience was offered precious lessons through Dandurand's stories, directly touching our hearts and minds. As Dandurand continues his residency at VPL, audiences look forward to learning more.