Welcome to Seniors’ Stories!
Seniors’ Stories is a project meant to inspire people to record their family history and preserve the unique bits of experience, knowledge, advice, tragedy and humour of their elderly relatives for the generations to come.
Our project chose East Vancouver as its initial focus point for the net of stories belonging to over 50 local seniors. We interviewed seniors who were born here or who were brought here by war, love, adventure or simply desire for a better life; who stayed home to raise families or who went on to create big businesses; who remember a charmed childhood or who suffered the indignity of internment or residential schools. The linear history of textbooks and monographs took on a multitude of shapes and became alive and relatable. From Strathcona through Grandview to Collingwood, the spirit of East Van Past was brought to light, and there are still so many more stories to be discovered.
We live in a time when it is easier than ever to document the life happening around us. The smartphones in our pockets and the word processors on our computers allow us to bridge past and future in ways that were once accessible only to specialists and to the affluent. Oral history deteriorates with every passing generation, colourful details fade, names and dates are forgotten, but recordings, texts and pictures withstand time more resiliently. Endless hours of researching through image archives, looking for that perfect picture to complement a story, definitely made us grateful that, more than half a century ago, there were people who thought to give us millennials something to work with. So please consider sharing your work with the public, and future generations will thank you.
During one of our presentations, a senior in attendance pointed out that our senior stories project isn’t the first of its kind. And the only answer is that nobody has all the stories, so every such project in the community is another chance to rescue a few more. Partnerships between organizations, exchanging information and expertise, and creating more dialogue with senior support providers would definitely improve the odds of saving more of our local history.
We hope that more seniors will come forward and contribute their piece of the puzzle to the project. Please take the time to explore our website (designed by our talented VCN | webteam), and consider sharing your story with the world.
It can be very hard to make seniors open up and share their past, because only they know the emotion behind it, and it takes effort to get it out of them. They challenge you to answer some very tough questions: Are you just extracting it from them so you can complete a project, or are you really going to cherish what was unique for them? So my answer as a storyteller is: “I’ll make it into a story so it will be saved for all time.” – Storyteller Mary Gavan
Seniors’ Stories is a project run by The Vancouver Community Network and funded through a New Horizons for Seniors grant supported by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
We would like to thank all the seniors involved in the project, our partner Britannia Community Services Adult 55+ Centre, and our interviewers.