AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following article was published in the Yellowknifer on June 4, 2010.
The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) celebrated a Northern tradition last weekend; The Sixth Annual NACC Festival of Stories. AKA Listen Up!, the festival brought storytellers together from near (Yellowknife, Fort Smith) and far (The Yukon Territory, Hawaii).
The event was billed as “a special weekend of stories, tales and large white lies, all told to keep you wide-eyed and on the edge of your seats.” Though a bit of an exaggeration, the spoken word artists delivered a special weekend.
Whether it was a legend of the North from the beginning of time or a modern-day David vs. Goliath tale set in Hawaii, there was never a dull story.
Many of the storytellers were from right here in Yellowknife. Among the locals with something to talk about was musician Steve Lacey and NACC promoter Ben Nind.
From the Yukon, Sharon Shorty and Rhonda Merkel passed on the legends passed down by their grandparents. A member of the Raven Clan of Tlingit, Northern Tutchone and Norwegian ancestry, Sharon Shorty shared a story of an elder and her grandchild abandoned by their village who are attacked by a giant owl. Their battle against the owl is a thrilling reminder never to underestimate an elder.
Merkel, a member of the Wolf Clan, reminisced about her family road trips and concluded with a legend of the salmon, a life source for the Wolf Clan.
Hawaiian performers Jeff Gere and Kathy Collin then took the stage. Gere fast-talked, Quentin Tarantino-style as he told a true story about a homeless woman named Pele. Pele stood by some palm trees to protect them from a contractor who wanted to cut them down to build a shopping centre, delivering an unforgettable line; “One day you will wake up, look out your windo and you will think-I’ve had enough. This is my day. You won’t take these trees. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”
Collins channeled her mother to tell a hilarious love story involving two sisters and some cupuas. The endoing of her story will make girls think twice before letting their father cook.
The crème de la crème of the festival were the storytelling veterans of the NWT- Yellowknife’s Pat Braden and Fort Smith’s Jim Green.
With a bass guitar in hand, Pat took the audience to 1980 to remember the passing of his friend, whom he calls Beast.
The storytellers hit the road for Fort Smith, Hay River and Enterprise earlier this week. Braden and Smith are scheduled to perform in several communities in the Yukon this month, as well.
 Pronounced Paul eh?
 Shape shifters