It was a night filled with laughs, tears, inclusivity, and most of all, connection—proving that for a city such as Vancouver, the lack of connection isn’t a reality but merely a perception.

On Friday, November 6th, SFU Woodward’s opened its doors to let the interested into its halls in anticipation for the eighth annual Interesting Vancouver 2015 (IV15). The crowd of people took in the vintage pinball machine, loaned to IV15 from John’s Jukes on Main. Trays of appetizers, provided kindly by Save On Meats, would soon fill the main lobby with Liam Lewis, the Little Locavore, and Mark Brand making okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake, during the break. The buzz of excitement over this year’s speakers consumed the lobby, a question on everyone’s lips: would this year be more interesting than the last?

It definitely was.

From the beginning, the audience provided a safe and open environment for all ten speakers to tell their individual stories about triumphing over personal obstacles. Every speaker engaged the audience with their raw, vulnerable journeys. There were stories that leaned towards getting out of their own way to succeed; others centred around the generosity and kindness of strangers during their projects. Some speakers talked about being swallowed by a darkness that never seemed to bring any light, until their passion, hobby, or action opened a door for them.

The IV15 speakers opened their hearts up to a crowd of strangers, only to find their stories accepted and understood. This year, IV15 decided to break away from its previous formats and asked the community to nominate someone they felt embodies the values and vision of Interesting Vancouver. An IV committee carefully went through all the nominations and chose the best person to receive the award. Gaby Eirew, founder of – a site dedicated to recording what people wished they had known about their parents, won the award and will speak about her interesting passion at IV16.

And that’s what Interesting Vancouver is all about—inviting people from the community to come and talk about their interesting hobbies, passions, or actions. This event gets Vancouverites, or people who just moved to Vancouver, to step outside their comfort zone, and meet new people. This was evidenced from our emcee’s request to take a selfie with a stranger in the audience, flooding Interesting Vancouver’s Twitter page with new friends taking pictures together.

The entire night was about connection, breaking out of the confines of doing things in a specific way and shifting perspectives, empowering people to step outside of themselves. As Colin Easton, our IV emcee and founder of The Stranger Project 2014, said during his talk, “…when we share our stories with strangers, we break down stigmas.”

Because you never know who you might connect with, once you get to know the person on the inside.

Missed this year’s IV15? Join in the community for next year’s Interesting Vancouver 2016 by following us on Twitter at @interestingvan or liking our Facebook page.

Perhaps you know someone you feel is interesting and should be nominated for the IV Prize—nominations for Interesting Vancouver 2016 are now open here.