Stories change the world. I’m proof of this. My family immigrated from Guyana, South America to Canada, inspired by stories of what could be accomplished for those who called this land home. And Canada welcomed us with open arms because the old stories—that minorities weren’t worth as much as Caucasians—were no longer valid. Everyone in Canada was of equal value, and all had a right to achieve the dreams in their hearts.
My journey, however, wasn’t rife with happy endings. Different is different, especially when you’re the only colored kid in the class, and the only mixed race—Chinese, African, East Indian, West Indian—one, too. I had my share of bullies, racism and being alone and lonely.
But here’s the thing, I also had stories. Watty Piper and The Little Engine that Could, Frances Hodgson Burnett and A Little Princess. The library was full of books featuring oddball characters who somehow, some way, got their happy ending.
Stories helped to shape how I viewed myself and the world around me, and it’s something I share during my author visits to schools. I talk to students about my grandmothers who were denied an education because they were colored women, my grandfathers who were denied jobs because they were colored men. We laugh about my mother trying to teach her kids how to swim when she didn’t actually know how to swim. And there are lots of giggles between us when I confess my disastrous attempts to make friends.
That’s the power of story. It connects us, no matter our age, color—no matter what, we are equal. We are one when it comes to story. We identify with the characters; we share their dreams and victories. If there’s one thing I hope students take with them after my visit, it’s this: All of us have a story, and it matters. To us. To the world. Our stories have power. In short, our stories—and our courage in sharing them—change the world. So let’s get out there, and change the world, one story at a time.
This spring, Natasha will be on tour in the following areas:
March 6-10, 2017: Vancouver, BC
April 3-7, 2017: Southern Alberta, including Medicine Hat, High River and Brooks
April 18-21, 2017: The Greater Toronto Area
April 27, 2017: Edson, Alberta
May 6-13, 2017: The Northwest Territories
If your school would like to book a visit with her, please contact Natasha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natasha Deen moved to Canada as a child to escape the racial and political violence of Guyana, in South America. Her books include Burned from Orca’s Retribution series, Sleight of Hand and Across the Floor. Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with her family. For more information, visit www.natashadeen.com.