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Canadian stories have roots around the world

by Carol Tulpar, over 2 years ago

During a long career as a teacher of academic English to newly arrived members of our multicultural community, I had the great privilege and responsibility of choosing Canadian-made material for my students to read and discuss. The process of selection was a joy because the field of Canadian content was so rich and varied.

For newcomers, reading the work that other Canadians have produced is a great opportunity to gain insight into the society they've decided to join. Novelists like Joseph Boyden, Esi Edugyan, Vincent Lam, Emma Donoghue, Carol Shields, Richard Wagamese, Madeleine Thien and Karim Alrawi give readers deep insight into Canada's social history and the history of other parts of the world. Historical writers like Gwethalyn Graham, Ethel Wilson, Margaret Lawrence, and Hugh McLennan reveal Canada's past -- when we were a far less liberal culture than we are today. Knowing such stories makes us better, more thoughtful people.

Writers like Stephen Leacock, Roch Carrier, Will Ferguson, and Rick Mercer give us the joy of laughter, with insight as a bonus. In a recent one-man show, actor-broadcaster Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote Empire of the Son for the theatre. His one-man show portrayed the son's discovery of what his Japanese father had witnessed in wartime Japan as well as his life as a broadcaster for BBC and Radio-Canada International. This writer-actor absorbed the audience into his personal but universal meditation on family relationships, especially between fathers and sons. A few years ago, Linda Griffiths did something similar, touching a nerve with her portrayal of then then first couple, Maggie and Pierre.

Creating work of the quality of the few samples mentioned above takes time -- so much time that writers who want to write for a living would soon give up out of discouragement. For most, it's the calling that keeps them going, year in and year out. The overwhelming majority of writers mange to create while managing full-time jobs. But the fact that many do their work out of love and a sense of calling does not mean it should go unrewarded.

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a writer myself. Only since retiring from my full-time job have I managed to finish a novel that has been seven years in the making. I'm also a blogger. Though this generates no income, I value the discipline in editing and meeting deadlines. I've enjoyed tremendously the freedom to create short articles, some of which involve research on a variety of subjects, including Canadian history, books and authors and much more. I've been doing this regularly for 7 years now, and though I've tried to quit a couple of times, I keep starting up again.

Humans are story loving creatures, and Canadians are readers. Reading stories gives us a wider understanding of the world and makes us better people.

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