Photo courtesy of Daniel Melvill Jones.

Dr. Jocelyn Williams and Kim Coulter have brought neighbours and generations together again for another round of gripping storytelling in the anticipated sequel to the popular 2019 book, Weaving Words of Wisdom. After witnessing the profound impact this memoir series had on the previous group of contributors, Jocelyn and Kim were determined to expand this unique circle of impact even further by including a third generation.

While the last edition of Weaving Words of Wisdom involved senior residents of United Active Living sharing their life stories with students at St. Mary’s University, this follow-up includes the input and ideas of third-graders. Students from Calgary’s Sibylla Kiddle School and their teacher, Richard Russell, brought a fresh and new perspective to these pages – encouraging big ideas to grow and flourish throughout the storytelling process.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Melvill Jones.

Along with Jocelyn and Kim, two St. Mary’s students played a key role in the development of this book. Grace Boyko and Sloane Walker, both in the fourth and final year of their respective Bachelor of Arts – English degrees at StMU, put their researching, editing and writing skills to use to help bring these stories to life.

But while an exceptional team of participants and storytellers was assembled for this book, in the face of the ongoing pandemic, everyone involved faced unprecedented obstacles. With the ability to connect in person being lost, creativity became a necessity.

“As we were banned from visiting each other and we navigated varying access to electronic communication, as we battled distance, illness and loss – we rediscovered pen-palling, holiday card exchanges, journaling, and photography. Together, we built and sustained safe companionship,” says Jocelyn.

As a result, the three generations who participated in this series were able to keep in touch in a way that was new for many of the students but a trip down memory lane for the senior residents. They all wrote each other letters.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Melvill Jones.

“The ways we could connect changed. We communicated as pen pals which is an experience I do not think I would have had if not for the pandemic. It was an interesting and fun way to get to know each other, “says Grace.

As participants learned to share their stories and listen to each other, this book captured a beautiful process of three different generations forming meaningful connections with one another. For Jocelyn, this represents hope.

“It’s easy to be discouraged by a pandemic and sadness and bad news. When I see three generations of people sharing stories of resiliency and encouragement, I’m inspired. This diverse truth telling of theirs is inclusive, accessible, welcoming, and so incredibly reassuring,” she explains.

Despite the varying ages of the contributors to this sequel, there were undeniable similarities that tied these different generations together and helped to build strong bonds and form lifelong connections. For StMU student Grace, being involved in this experience helped her to realize the many opportunities and different paths that lie before all of us in our lives.  Hearing the stories of the joy that United Active Living residents have found as they look back on their lives, and the unbridled excitement that the third-grade students have as they look toward their futures, encouraged her to be excited for what lies ahead in her own story.

This book is the result of a year of life-cherishing, intergenerational communication that reinforces how much we all can learn from connecting with each other. We hope you enjoy this curated collection of interviews and images as much as we have, and find comfort in these pages and stories of lessening loneliness, building resiliency, and finding everlasting connection.

Order your copy of The Resiliency Interviews from the StMU library today!