Our Stories, Ourselves
At In The Hills our job is to tell the stories of our community.
A reader once told us: “I hope you don’t mind, but I don’t think of In The Hills as your magazine, I think of it as my magazine.” No, we don’t mind. In fact, there could hardly be sweeter words.
That’s the thing about telling stories. Unlike secrets, which belong only to their keeper, a story is always a gift, and once shared, it belongs as much to the listener or reader as it does to the teller. With stories, there are no returns or refunds. The genie is out of the lamp.
At In The Hills our job is to tell the stories of our community. And in this issue these include two stories specifically about telling stories.
First, Liz Beatty explores the story behind a new exhibit at PAMA, which showcases the stories of the mostly black congregation of a Caledon church. “When we first came to Canada, we did not learn anything about Canadian black history,” church leader Ronald Kelly tells her. “Nothing of the story of black people was reflected back to us.” Church members have been active here for more than a generation, and now their stories are embedded in the community record.
And then Anthony Jenkins drops in on a performance of the Dufferin Circle of Storytellers, who have been telling their tales in these parts for 25 years. Here’s how one member of the group describes the purpose of storytelling: “Words are our vehicle for having a shared experience together.”
We’re happy to say this issue is a coronavirus-free zone – except to note that as stories go, there could hardly be one more compelling and widely shared. With a few exceptions I’ve never cared for apocalyptic fiction. What taste I have for thrills runs more to mystery series in books and on screen. I am currently in the midst of a Harlan Coben crime series on Netflix – but I’ve dropped it in the past couple of weeks. It can’t compete with the real-life story of coronavirus, with its moment-to-moment developments, unpredictable plot twists and chilling suspense.
A hundred years ago, my father’s mother and infant sister were among the victims of the great flu epidemic, and that story remains an integral part of my family’s history. This current pandemic, too, will pass, and with luck our rural corner of the world will be spared the most tragic consequences of the virus itself, even as we experience the considerable side effects. No matter how it evolves though, when it’s finally all done, what will inevitably remain are the stories we’ll tell about it.