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Anthology explores Canadian myths for grown-ups

By: Geralyn Wichers

Posted: 06/3/2018 7:40 AM

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Publisher and author Casia Schreyer has released a collection of short, mythological stories in Canadian settings.

GERALYN WICHERS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Publisher and author Casia Schreyer has released a collection of short, mythological stories in Canadian settings.

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As a child, Casia Schreyer listened to her mother read a story about a little Inuit girl who, while playing hide and seek, encountered an ijiraq, a mischievous spirit that led children away from their villages and lost them on the tundra.

Years later Schreyer, who lives in the Ste Genevieve area, found the book second-hand and read it to her own children.

Schreyer began to reflect on the rising food prices up north, which were making it difficult for people to eke out a living. She thought of the vulnerable young people moving south to cities, she said, and of the people who might exploit them.

Schreyer imagined the ijiraq crossing the tundra, coming across empty communities and wondering where his people had gone. The spirit who once lost people now goes looking for his lost people.

This story is in Canadian Creatures, an anthology by Schreyer Ink Publishing released on Friday. The anthology pulls together short stories of mythology set in quintessentially Canadian settings—be it tundra spirits, lake monsters, or Alice in Wonderland reimagined in northern Manitoba.

Alyssa Thiessen’s contribution to the anthology is a romantic, coming-of-age story surrounding the legend of Ogopogo, the sea monster said to roam Lake Okanagan.

Thiessen, who teaches grades 9-12 at Steinbach Christian School, came up with the idea while chaperoning a grade 11 ski trip. She brainstormed with her students as to how to make the story unique.

The result is the story of a young man who, after a mystical encounter as a child, is obsessed with Lake Okanagan.

Among adults she raised some eyebrows. A friend, upon hearing her idea for the story, asked "is this a collection for adults?"

It is. Thiessen insists that even adults can benefit from imagination even if they, like her, don’t actually believe in Ogopogo.

"I think there’s more to life than meets the eye," Thiessen said. "The ‘what if’ is a beautiful question."

Visit Schreyer Ink Publishing on Facebook for more information on Canadian Creatures.

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