photo by lesley ewen

The diverse cultural communities that make Vancouver each have a dazzling array of stories and ways of telling. With the festival, which is one of the longest running and most recognized storytelling festivals in Canada, the VSOS is supporting a vibrant multicultural and intercultural milieu in which visitors and residents alike find something to celebrate, reflect upon and learn from. The festival programming is developed in order take the risks necessary to meet the challenges ever-present when engaging with intersecting intercultural, polyglot communities on land as rich and diverse as the stories that occur upon it!

The inaugural festival was in 1991  –

Pat Bronson and friend Once upon a Time…!

Since then, there has been an array of world class storytellers gracing Vancouver stages. See Festival Archive Gallery for a glimpse !







Tickets are available in advance through Eventbrite or at the door, or volunteer with the festival to receive a FREE weekend pass!

Friday June 13 | 8-10pm
The Tallest Tails and Reddest Noses
Hungarian Hall, 728 Kingsway, Vancouver

Saturday June 14 | 3-5pm
Community Constellations
Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre, 7646 Prince Albert St., Vancouver

Saturday June 14 | 8-10pm
The Shahnameh, a Persian Epic
Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre, 7646 Prince Albert St., Vancouver

Sunday June 15 | 10:30am-12
Sugar Mountain: Family Storytime
Native Education College, 285 E 5th Ave., Vancouver

Sunday June 15 | 3-5pm
Panel Discussion: Storytelling for Social Change
SFU Woodward’s World Arts Centre, 145 W Hastings St., Vancouver

Sunday June 15 | 7:30-9:30pm
Curiouser and Curiouser
St. Marks Church, 1805 Larch Street, Vancouver

Festival Extensions

Monday June 16 | 6:30-9:30pm
The Digital Dilemma and the Storyteller
Circle Hall at Cascadia Society, North Vancouver






what stories are made of

the 19th Vancouver International Storytelling Festival

June 8-12, 2012

With what stories are made of, the VSOS aspired to hold a listening space for all; from the first-person-personal to the mythic, from archetypical landscapes to the geographic realities of these Coast Salish territories.

story poster

The VSOS lent its support to stories of accessible education, food security, active transportation, rain-ways, civic engagement, urban design and intergenerational/cultural dialogue.

Programming included:

Friday June 8 – Opening Gala

Kevan Cameron

In the Sun Yat-Sen Garden’s Hall of a Hundred Rivers, tellers were: Larry Grant (Musqueam), Brian CampbellAbegael Fisher-Lang, Quelemia Sparrow and Kevan Cameron – aka Scruff Mouth. Listeners heard the buzzing of bees and the poetics of a vast mythic landscape. Remembering what we have forgotten, salmon ancestors swim.

Saturday June 9 – ELEMENTAL bike/bus tour 

VSOS board members enjoying the tour

VSOS board members enjoying the tour

This free tour showcased the results of over a year of community engagement through the ELEMENTAL initiative.  See the ELEMENTAL tour page  details.

MC’s/Guides/Storytellers: Sara Ross, Godfrey Levy, Naomi Steinberg, Sam Bob, Jumin Lee, Vesna Radiojevic, Wendy Charbonneau, Ms. Kezar’s Grade 6/7 class, the Ladies in White

Saturday, June 9 – Ghost Stories

Hycroft Manor

Hycroft Manor

The home of the University Women’s Club backyard provided space for  a free reception, which included foodie snacks, music and haunted delights.


Audiences had the opportunity to explore one of Vancouver’s unique heritage buildings and listen to stories that contextualized and celebrated the building. Storytellers were: Jean-Pierre Makosso, Bryant Ross, Laura Simms and Zaccheus Jackson.

MC: Hazel Lennox and Tony Rainbow

Fest 2012

Sunday, June 10 – Family Storytime

Children and parents listened danced and sang in the Native Education College. Storytellers were: Comfort Ero, Siobhan Barker, and Wendy Charbonneau.

MC Woody Morrison

Sunday, June 10 –  Closing Gala

Amanada Nahanee

Amanada Nahanee

Somewhere in between talk-show, interview and performance, this evening of first-person personal storytelling with a twist was a pleasure and delight. Storytellers were: Amanada Nahanee, Naomi Steinberg and Veenesh Dubois.

MC: Rupinder Sidhu

Also of note on Sunday was the filled to overflow Panel Discussion, Sunday Afternoon. For a longer listen, please consider here:


Co-presented by the Vancouver Public Library, Banyen Books and Sound and the VSOS, this panel discussion was on the applications of storytelling for social change. Panelists were: Zaccheus Jackson, Comfort Ero, and Laura Simms.

Moderator: Julia Lane.

Monday June 11-12 The Power of Story

SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, the Vancouver Society of Storytelling, and Banyen Books & Sound presented a storytelling evening & workshop with
 Laura Simms.


The Festival would not have been possible without a number of philanthropists making generous donations at the last minute.

We are very grateful to: Ilana Labow and Fresh Roots, Aaron Ash and Gorilla Foods, Janet Coates, Toronto Dominion, Mrs. Esther Steinberg, Claudine Pommier, Linda Stender, Flora Purcell, Moshe Mastai, Randi and Sam Winter, Philomena Jordan, Muneera Wallace

Artistic Director: Naomi Steinberg

Festival Assistant: Muneera Wallace


Heritage100_Canada                    CanCon

BCArtsCouncil_RGB_pos_lrg                                      CCEC_LOGO_2010    City of Van logo


 banlogo6 SFUW_LogoWordm_2C       NEClogo







We, our stories:


Friday, June 11 – Sunday June 13th, 2010

We are very proud to have presented the following programmes and performers as part of the “We, Our Stories” Storytelling Festival in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver B.C. www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/

A Sustainability Story …?

Riding the wave of Vancouver’s biking craze, the VSOS distributed bike-seat rain-covers promoting the festival. See Photo Gallery for more images of this Guerilla Marketing campaign !

Rustling Leaves: Storytelling In The Garden

In the weeks before and after the festival, children, parents and teachers felt the space around them grow still as professional storytellers wove tales of far away times and places.

« Les Franco-Contes » For The Francophones

Après avoir terminé un atelier “Telling Bee” avec la conteuse Naomi Steinberg, les étudiants en Immersion Française en 9ième année de l’École Sir Winston Churchill ont partager et célébrer des contes qui viennent de leur culture. Jacques Lalonde, vedette ‘underground’ de Vancouver, s’est présenté comme chef d’orchestre.

Having undertaken a two month ‘Telling Bee’ workshop series with storyteller Naomi Steinberg, Grade 9 students from Churchill highschool showcased stories that celebrate their cultural heritage. Local icon, Jacques Lalonde hosted these students in their exciting public storytelling debut.

Debt of Tears – Site specific storytelling with Wang Su Ma

The Debt of Tears, based on a classic Chinese novel The Dream of the Red Chamber, is a story of two lovers bound by a spell that was set in motion by the Goddess, Nu Wa. This story is told in a garden named for Sun Yat-Sen, a romantic revolutionary, who had a love story of his own.

A Chinatown Wander – Walking tours with Larry Wong

This walking tour was an intriguing way to discover Vancouver. Larry told of plots to overthrow dynasties, riots, ghosts and the World’s Narrowest Building, as well as sharing personal anecdotes on this wander through some of the (in)famous streets of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Workshop – The Longest Days with Allison Cox

Celebrating the stories and spiritual journeys of the Summer Solstice”, participants explored both the ancient and current meanings of the summer’s return to our lives.

The Living Room

An intimate, informal setting for trading stories over tea.

Storybox Sunday

At the heart of the City’s Great Beginnings Initiative is the desire to explore its roots and listen to the stories of each of its founding neighbourhoods. The StoryBox project was a partnership with urban ink, a non-profit organization that develops and produces aboriginal and culturally diverse works of theatre, writing and film. The bamboo grove in the public park adjacent to the Garden was woven with red yarn. Referring to the through-line narrative of a story (often called a red thread) and also an homage to indigenous weaving techniques, this visually compelling listening space was filled by the StoryBox storytellers.


A new element of this year’s Festival was the documentation process: First Nations elders with experience in new media mentored youth who are interested in photographic and film technologies as well as indigenous witnessing practices and protocols. Please stay tuned :::  excerpts from this and other traces of the festival will be posted as and when processed !

The following performers contributed to the Festival:

The Cultural Medicine Cabinet Choir a community choir rooted in political solidarity movements, spiritual journey and connected upliftment.

Dixie Star Dixie Star Storytelling is dedicated to the performance of innovative, inspiring, and interactive stories for adults and children. www.dixiestars.com

Max Tell Max Tell’s large collection of stories, songs and poems is deceptively simple, in the manner of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, in that they carry with them deep, profound truths. www.maxtell.ca

RC Weslowski RC Weslowski is a clown-mouth, full of x-ray visions, getting at the heart of things.

Zamir Dhanji This interdisciplinary performer is devoted to profound sharing though culture.

Wang Su Ma As a new immigrant from China, learning, sharing and telling stories are an important part of Wang Su Ma’s life

Allison Cox Travels across land and sea, performing, teaching and interviewing other storytellers for her books. www.dancingleaves.com/allison

Erin Graham Erin Graham’s unmistakable persona and engaging storytelling are key to her commitment to bringing light into the darkest corners of the world..

Little Woo Little Woo’s unique approach weaves performance art with storytelling. www.littlewoo.org

Mary Gavan Mary grew up a tramp. As her family wintered in Scotland and summered in Ireland, she grew up tramping to and fro, enjoying the songs and stories of her grandparents and country folk. www.vancouverstorytellers.vcn.bc.ca

Kwii ge ii wans (Roberta Kennedy) Roberta is a traditional Haida singer, drummer, and storyteller and one of Canada’s leading aboriginal performers. www.sharkhouse.ca

Larry Wong Larry Wong is director of the Vancouver Historical Society, curator of the Chinese Canadian Military Museum in Vancouver, and Past President of the Chinese-Canadian Historical Society of BC.

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