Bailey: Stories build belonging

Stories – our own and those of others – are powerful. They separate us from animals and connect us with the rest of humankind. Most of all, in world where facts are increasingly undervalued, they have the power to transform. Just ask Cameron Bailey.

“Belonging – it’s an active verb. It can be something that you do. Stories are one of the most powerful ways we have to belong,” said Bailey, BA’87.

Bailey, Artistic Director & Co-Head of TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the world’s biggest and most important film festivals, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) at the Thursday afternoon session of Western’s 312thConvocation.

He spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, addressing anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, stressing the inclusivity that arises from sharing and listening to one another’s stories.

“Culture may be the single most important thing that defines us as human. It is more than an anthropological thing that separates us from animals,” Bailey said.

“Narrative and social bonds give us culture. Stories take on meaning only when they communicate between the teller and the audience. They are powerful and can be reworked infinitely,” he continued.

“We can’t call ourselves human if we can’t explain our existence through our stories. Stories are our most relevant analytical tool when facts are becoming less and less relevant. Facts don’t seem to be enough to combat hateful ideas but stories might just be able to do it. The more you deepen your understanding of the world we share, use your stories, belong.”

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