Ladysmith oral story teller Rachel Dunstan Muller recently returned from a tour of northern Quebec.
The tour was part of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, an initiative of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Muller is a member of Storyteller’s Canada, an organization primarily for children’s authors and oral storytellers. She was one of three storytellers selected by the organization to participate in the program.
“This was the first time I’d applied,” Muller said. “My hope was just to get on their radar, because it was something I wanted to do in the future, but I didn’t actually expect to be accepted.”
Because Muller is an anglophone with “rusty” French speaking skills, she assumed her tour of Quebec would be around the more urban English speaking areas. However, when she was filling out her preferences questionnaire, one of the questions asked if she would be comfortable with any type of travel, and she said yes.
Instead of being placed in Quebec’s urban centres, Muller was sent to the Lower North Shore, a remote, predominantly English-speaking area on the border with Labrador. She travelled by helicopter, twin otter plane, Ski-Doo, and ATV to six snowbound communities with populations between 150 and 400 people. With the size of the communities, Muller had to tell stories to audiences that ranged from Pre-K to Grade 11.
“Some of the schools broke up the presentations by age group, but some of them I would address the entire school because the school was only 14 people or 22 people,” Muller said. “I would not normally even think of tackling that… but I just tried to choose stories that were as universally engaging as possible.”
Although she only recently returned from Quebec, Muller is headed to an artist residency in Washington State in early June. Muller recently discovered that she is a dual citizen between Canada and the United States, and hopes to pursue more storytelling opportunities in America in the future.
Muller is a published children’s author, and a member of the Around Town Tellers, a group of oral story tellers that put on events in Nanaimo. She will be at Stories on Friday, an Around Town Tellers event in Nanaimo on June 14 at 7:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Hall, 595 Townsite Road. She is also hosting 15 Minutes of Infamy at the Nanaimo Bar June 19 at 7 p.m. Muller will appear alongside the Around Town Tellers at the Nanaimo Fringe Festival in August.
For more on her work, visit: racheldunstanmuller.com.