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  • Writer's pictureSimone Skopek

The power of heritage and family stories as a source of inner strength

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Logo of  the Youth LEADarts program
Marilyn Field's Youth LEADarts program creates story-based workshops for youth at risk aged 9-14.

I was deeply humbled and honored when Marilyn Field, a renowned doyenne of the arts, invited me to launch my books at Windrush, the stunning Niagara winery, which she runs with her husband John.

Marilyn's cultural events are legendary throughout the region, and she is widely known for her tireless efforts to help struggling artists gain a foothold in the challenging arts industry.

She has also used her talents to help children at risk through her Youth LEADarts program, and her Women of Courage Award and Governor General's Meritorious Service Award are testament to her larger-than-life personality and impressive achievements as a musician, innovator and educator.

Marilyn's performance arts for youth at risk reinforces the power of heritage and family stories to understand life's beauty and complexity

As I was preparing for the book launch, I was struck by the inspiring work that Marilyn has done in the performance arts to help marginalized children between the ages of 9 and 14 find their way in life by tapping into their roots, supporting one another, discovering their voice, and finding their purpose. Witnessing the emotional rehearsals, heartfelt performances, and mutual support of these young people reaffirmed my belief in the power of family stories and heritage, both the good and the bad as a source of inner strength.

In family stories, we find heroes, rogues, and dreamers; tales of love, resilience, and sacrifice; mistakes made, betrayals, and disappointments and lessons learned that strengthen us as we navigate our way through life. Although our ancestors made mistakes and faced challenges, their ability to survive and the fact that we are here today can instill in us a sense of resilience and perseverance. By understanding where we come from, we gain a deeper appreciation of how we got to where we are. The stories can help us to understand life's complexity, find compassion in our hearts, heal from past mistakes, and take greater control of our own destinies.

Historical storytelling has played a vital role in human evolution, and similarly, family stories and heritage have the power to shape our identity. By sharing and passing down these stories, we can preserve our heritage and provide a foundation for personal growth for ourselves and future generations.

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