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My first childhood memory of storytelling is sitting around a lakeside campfire in Northern Ontario with my family, my Scottish Grandfather illuminated by firelight and silhouetted by stars as he told stories. An enchanting Gaelic brawl rolled through his powerful voice. With that gift in my heart, I have been travelling a storyteller's journey interwoven with world music and dance, with more than 30 years of artistic collaboration with independent choreographers, dancers, Sign Language Interpreters, musicians, and clowns. As a parent and teacher, I have been telling and teaching around campfires, outdoor bread ovens, kitchen tables, and in classrooms for 25 years. I have been a featured performer at international festivals in Canada and abroad for many years, including the Scottish International Storytelling Festival since 2013. I teach the art and craft of storytelling through the grades to teachers in Canada and abroad. My storytelling repertoire includes Scottish stories, Celtic legends and myths, Greek and Norse myths, folktales from around the world, traditional and contemporary stories about trees, with a particular focus on strong women and environmental imperatives of respecting each other and our planet. Juno-nominated world music artist Maryem Hassan Tollar and I have interwoven music and story into collaborative performances in Toronto and internationally, including stories from 1001 Nights. Our 2019 performance in the Sanctuary Series at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto was recorded and can be viewed via the link on my website. The power of storytelling to open hearts and minds and bring people together continues to inspire me. I'm currently the Artistic Director of the Toronto Storytelling Festival.
photo credit: Joe Tamko