“Pauline Le Bel is a delicate, respectful, passionate storyteller and a dedicated activist.” Mark Abbott, review of Whale in the Door in The Province, November 28, 2017.
I have been a full-time writer and singer for over 40 years. I worked in professional theatre where critics called me “a musical instrument linked to a soul” for my passionate portrayal of French singer, Edith Piaf, in a play I co-wrote and performed in Vancouver, Victoria, London, Edmonton and Montreal. This is a photo from that play. I was also called “a national treasure” for my performances in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well in Calgary and Edmonton. Just to let you know: all this praise, although really nice, is not easy to live up to. In the past few years I have been mostly wearing the writer’s hat.
My most recent book of literary non-fiction is Whale in the Door: A Community Unites to Protect BC’s Howe Sound. With a foreword by Elizabeth May and photos by Rich Duncan, it is a book that has helped me fall in love with Howe Sound, a spectacular fjord in Vancouver’s backyard.
“This is a story that was begging to be told, and Le Bel tells it in a unique voice that ranges from mystical through scientific to activist.” Dr. Julie Gardner, Adjunct Professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC
“I loved it! It is inspirational. I’ve learned so much.” Robert Ballantyne, Chair, Board of Directors, BC Spaces for Nature
“Whale is well-researched and Le Bel is a delicate, respectful, passionate storyteller and a dedicated activist…“Reading Whale in the Door is a wonderful experience marking the ongoing efforts of the Squamish Nation and its allies to protect Howe Sound from once again being poisoned for profit…The additional importance lies not just in its history lesson but also within the scientific facts Le Bel weaves into the prose effortlessly without losing her narrative…Pauline Le Bel takes us on a journey – both hers and the Howe Sound itself – that is unforgettable and inspiring.” Mark Abbott, The Province
Le Bel’s new book, Whale in the Door: A Community Unites to Protect BC’s Howe Sound (Caitlin Press), is all about making space for a new story to shape the way we see and approach the land… Though full of information even locals will likely not know, it’s not at all academic. While her previous book, Becoming Intimate with the Earth, took its energy from sadness and loss, this one, she tells me, is born out of gratitude and love… Le Bel’s care, not just as a writer but as a person, is what leads us into the book’s heart, and hers.” Amy Reiswig, FOCUS on Victoria
“Le Bel’s filmmaking experience has clearly honed her ability to show and not tell, and to get what she wants from primary sources – the people concerned. Her extensive research is impressive.” Pacific Yachting
“A history, travelogue, grassroots activism log, and plea for sustainability, Le Bel’s book is a cautiously optimistic exploration of this regionally significant area.” Brett Grubrsic, Vancouver Sun
“Thanks for thinking of using our legend and my words to put it into a modern context.” Chris Lewis, Squamish Nation Councillor and Spokesperson
“Thank you for WHALE IN THE DOOR! As an ardent “fan” of Howe Sound, I chose your book to share with our book club. There are currently 12 of us who have been meeting and participating in discussions for over 30 years!
It was a quite a learning experience – your active research and participation with numerous individuals and groups who are working hard to maintain and improve Atl’kitsem, is so important. You made us aware that the best approach is to embrace the native ways of respecting mother earth and and all she provides, how to protect, how to give back. Thanks again for making us more aware.” Jacqueline Rauh
“Reminds me that amazing artists like Pauline Le Bel have so much to say about healing our precious earth.” Ramona de Graaf, Marine Biologist
Published in October 2017 by Caitlin Press – 208 pages with spectacular colour photographs by Rich Duncan – $24.95
To purchase a copy: http://caitlin-press.com/our-books/whale-in-the-door-community-unites-to-protect-bc-howe-sound/
For a signed copy email me: songspinner(at)shaw(dot)ca
My first book of poems, They Ask Me Why I Sing So Loud, was published in May 2017 by Collins Foundation Press. In her review, poet Susan McCaslin wrote: “Le Bel is above all else a praise-singer whose poems cal us to participate in the universal song.” Retail price: $15. For a signed copy, email me: songspinner(at)shaw(dot)ca
My literary non-fiction book, Becoming Intimate with the Earth, was published by Collins Foundation Press in 2013. Part love story, part battle cry, part call to adventure, it weaves our new science-based cosmology with the traditional wisdom of indigenous people and my passionate engagement with life and the natural world. Inside are Intimacy Guides, Resources and Links to fascinating people making a difference. I hope the book will act as a powerful guide to help us heal our relationship with our planetary home.
Available from the publisher: Collins Foundation Press; on Amazon.com; from Banyen Books in Vancouver; or for a signed copy email me: songspinner(at)shaw.ca
My writing has been recognized internationally: Emmy-nomination and Cable ACE Award for Best Writing for The Song Spinner, a feature- length drama about the transformative power of music. Young Aurora grows up in The Land of Pindrop, a silent world where music – and all noise – is forbidden by the Hush Law. When she meets Zantalalia, a mysterious old gypsy woman, she learns the truth about music and begins an adventure that will bring the light and the song back to her people. The film starred Patti Lupone, Brent Carver, and John Neville, and received many international film festival awards. I also won a national award for my novel, The Song Spinner.
My award-winning novel based on the screenplay was published in 1994 by Red Deer Press and is now available for purchase through me: songspinner(at)shaw.ca
I am a longtime member of The Writers Union of Canada, The Writers Guild of Canada, The Federation of BC Writers, and the Creative Non Fiction Collective.
Music has been the great love of my life. And two things have guided me on this amazing musical journey: my longing to sing and my deep love and connection with the natural world. More recently, I’ve been hanging out with scientists, attending science conferences, giving papers on music and the role of the artist, and writing songs inspired by recent scientific discoveries. I also give vocal playshops to help the shy find their voice.
I have released 5 CDs of original songs: Dancing with the Crone, a musical journey into conscious and juicy aging; Rescue Joy, songs about loss and starting over – proceeds to the David Suzuki Foundation; La tendresse, my French CD with songs of Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and my own French songs ; Deep Fun: Songs about Science, Food and Sex, my CD of amusing songs ; and Voices in the Sound, the soundtrack to my cosmological musical about Bowen Island. All my songs are registered with S.O.C.A.N.
To listen to my music, visit my blog.
All CDs can be purchased from me – songspinner(at)shaw(dot)ca. Deep Fun, Rescue Joy and La Tendresse can also be purchased from cdbaby
I am part of a growing community working to integrate music, nature, science, and spirit to support a radical transformation in human consciousness. Starting with myself. I welcome these later years of life as a time to care for the Earth, to mentor, to share the hard-won wisdom of a life thoughtfully, if sometimes brashly, lived.
Baiya sheetoora. My music goes with you. Pauline
So glad I have discovered you and your work. Thank you!
Hello Marline. I went on your blog and enjoyed reading your posts, especially the one on consciousness. I agree that as a culture we have over-emphasized the role of the brain in consciousness. Which is why I appreciate the concept of “non-local mind”. It becomes clear that at some level everything is conscious. When we can enter into that way of thinking and feeling we will do less harm to the land, the waters, ourselves and others. Don’t you enjoy how singing allows one to enter into a deep form of full-body consciousness? Pauline
Pauline, I am thrilled that you like my Winter Solstice ritual! You’ll like it even better when I update it for 2015, as I shall definitely add the link to your beautiful and moving song. Thanks so much for alerting me to its existence, and thanks for all the beautiful things you write!
Hi Pauline, I have just discovered, quite by accident, your splendid article in the Tyee and, through your website here, an update on your recent activities. Many congratulations on all of these accomplishments. There is an enormous amount of food for thought in the Tyee article… and I look forward to reading the book.
Dear Merna, How wonderful to hear from you. I hope you are well. Would love to see you. Do you ever come to Vancouver?
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for WHALE IN THE DOOR! As an ardent “fan” of Howe Sound, I chose your book to share with our book club. There are currently 12 of us who have been meeting and participating in discussions for over 30 years!
It was a quite a learning experience – your active research and participation with numerous individuals and groups who are working hard to maintain and improve Atl’kitsem, is so important. You made us aware that the best approach is to embrace the native ways of respecting mother earth and and all she provides, how to protect, how to give back. Thanks again for making us more aware.
Thanks for kind words, Jacqueline. Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem could use more “fans” like you!
I have just finished reading your book Whale In The Door which I have picked up to read several times over the past year when the moments seemed appropriate. It was purchased from you at the West Vancouver library last year when you were there along with a few other guests to talk about the unique history of our local waters and some events that have taken place within them. I found your book very enjoyable and enlightening to read. I am pleased to know that there is so much more support these days by our communities to bring Howe Sound back to its former self when it was a thriving ecosystem and a home to the Squamish Nation.
I recall as a child the air pollution that drifted from Woodfiber and the terrible appearance of the Britannia Mines while passing through on the way up to Whistler. I could not understand how somethings so ugly could be placed into something so beautiful as the Howe Sound back then. When entering my teens I noticed along with others that many of our salmon that once were present had left the Howe Sound. Since that time, I have also come to learn the history behind the Britannia Mines and through your book much more about the Howe Sound, the ecology of it and its historical importance to the Squamish Nation.
What I was really shocked to read was that this fjord we call the Howe Sound was the most polluted part of the coastline within North America at one time not so long ago. Its recovery is quite something to be both pleased and proud of by those that have fought for its survival and recovery. Hopefully society today will see the greater value and wisdom in keeping Howe Sound a healthy and thriving ecosystem now and in the future.
Thank you for your lovely comments on Whale in the Door. I remember that gathering at the West Van Library. I will send you an email to let you know about a Howe Sound celebration happening on June 8th – a virtual celebration due to the coronavirus.
Good evening, Ms. Le Bel,
I discovered your novel, The Song Spinner, several years ago in the beginning of my teaching career. Now, many years later, I have brought it to life again as a novel study with my Grade 4 class. We are an arts core elementary school, Grade K-6. I thought the novel had some similarities to the Covid world we are currently living. So many rules and definitely so much taken away this year. We will be finishing our study this week. I don’t know if there is any chance you would be willing to do a video conference with my students, but if so we would be honoured and thrilled! Please reach out to me either way so that I know you’ve received this message.
In the meantime, thank you for your inspiring story. Wishing you health and happiness… and of course great music.
As I prepare to move to Maui, I came across the VHS Song Spinner and thought to look you up; and here you have been my neighbour! I have lived in N Vancouver for 17 years. I just spent the weekend in Tofino.
I wished to say hello and thank you for the Song Spinner story as it is one of my favorites (along with The Golden Compass) with common sense messages that are so important.
I will take my song to Maui and all that I have learned from the waters, lands, and people here.
Thank you Margo. Delighted to know The Song Spinner is one of your favourites. Wishing you much joy in your new home.
Baiya sheetoora. Pauline