Scottish Storytelling Festival: what not to miss this year!

Dawne McFarlane
Dawne McFarlane
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Promoted by Scottish International Storytelling Festival

The stage is set for the biggest cultural exchange to date at this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival, which will host 15 guest artists from Canada along with 60 home grown storytellers.

The 2019 Scottish International Storytelling Festival takes place from Friday, 18 October, to Thursday, 31 October, and aims to celebrate our shared heritage and human connections through storytelling, music and dance.

Dancers of Damel

Dancers of Damel

Central to this year’s ‘Canada Coast to Coast’ theme are the group of storytellers, musicians and dancers who represent the rich cultural diversity of Canada, who will perform in Edinburgh and travel across Scotland as part of the Festival on Tour.

The trans-Atlantic collaboration aims to strengthen the worldwide renaissance of storytelling through international partnerships and to bring creative resources to bear on the global climate emergency.

“This year the Storytelling Festival reaches across boundaries of culture, nationality and race,” explains festival director Donald Smith. “Never have we had so much need of authentic communication. Storytelling is much more than spoken words. It expresses human connection, shares culture and makes us at home in the world.”

As well as honouring the contribution of First Nation traditions in the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, there will be Gaelic and Scots language events, as well as the launch of a Gaelic podcast series Sgeul is Seanchas, a Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) and Scottish Storytelling Forum project which passes on and celebrates the oral storytelling tradition around Scotland.

Festival director Donald Smith.

Festival director Donald Smith.

The festival programme was launched on Tuesday, 10 September, by Donald along with Mary Duncan, Canadian Honorary Consul Scotland, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – where respects were paid to Canadian First Nation woman Demasduit, whose remains are due to be repatriated to Canada.

Kidnapped by a British settler in 1819, Demasduit died in 1820 from tuberculosis and was returned to her Beothuk Nation and buried at Red Indian Lake in Newfoundland.

A few years later her skull, and that of her murdered husband Nonosabusut, as well as sacred burial objects, were removed from their graves and sent to Scotland.

Following a campaign led by Mi’sel Joe, chief of the Miawpukek First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community at Conne River in Newfoundland and Labrador, Demasduit’s and Nonosabusut’s remains will be returned to Canada later this year from the National Museum of Scotland.

Alongside the Scotland-Canada strand, the 2019 Scottish International Storytelling Festival will host the world’s first Global Storytelling Lab, based on the Earth Charter Initiative. Over five days the politics of folktales and ecological action will be explored through storytelling, wild nature, the art of conversation and mythic imagination.

See Scottish International Storytelling Festival for full details and to buy tickets.