By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

We were delighted by the submissions to this year’s Winter Stories Contest. We loved the diversity of subject and style and the honest reflections made by the authors. Together with the support of our sponsors, we are able to pay each writer for their work. In doing so, we hope to encourage more people to set their stories down, to put words to the page and just go for it!

As a community, we are sitting on a wealth of stories and potential art. Telling our stories, making art, heals ourselves by bringing things to the surface. It renders our experience as something separate from ourselves, something universal. This process also heals others, by relating unspoken truths we wouldn’t readily admit. It helps others see where we’re coming from and how to connect with us.

It is truly the foundation of our sense of community.

It takes guts to share our stories. We make ourselves vulnerable by exposing ourselves in a less-than-perfect light. But if we are to grow as a region—and a country—we need to do a better job at understanding one another.

Looking at history, we see how the immigrants to this country were largely people who put their heads down and didn’t complain. They’re people who wanted to practice their religion free of persecution or people who wanted a fresh start.

But we are now a society of people who don’t really know ourselves or our countrymen. Look at the East-West divide and the English-French and the Indigenous/Non-Indigenous divides that we have created (and exploited).

In both Canadian and U.S. democracy, large narratives routinely overtake individual narratives. In other words, we consume stories that paint groups of people with the same (negative) brush and ignore the specifics of who a person is, how they got where they are, and what problem(s) they are trying to solve.

Stories have the ability to transform us permanently. To see ourselves and others in a new and more compassionate light.

Let us listen and share—and grow together.