Born on the unceded territory of the Anishinaabeg people, Robert Birch played on the shores of the Odenabe River, which in Ojibwa means “river that beats like a heart.”
Birch often identifies with the pronouns he/him.
He launched his first arts-based social education company in 1984 leading summer long youth workshops and trainings in local art organizations, school boards, colleges and universities. It was then he began a 27-year mentor relationship. Annie Stirling, M.A. was a beloved counsellor and Canada’s first Playback Theatre trainer. During this time, Birch co-directed a culturally diverse company of thirteen actors in Toronto, Ontario. Together, they delved into the intersections of personal narrative, performance and social justice. Over the past four decades Birch has been privileged to not only participate in thousands of hours of community ceremony and educational circles but to directly support many people in their life-defining.
For over thirty-five years Birch has practiced the sacred arts –first as a performer and director, then as a culturally-informed facilitator and storyteller working alongside such diverse groups as the Tillicum Haus Indigenous counsellor training program; O.U.R Ecovillage; with LGBTQ* and HIV organizations; sex workers, incarcerated men and many other arts informed community practitioners. These collaborative projects were devised to strengthen foundations of mutual safety, trust and accountability while critiquing inequitable social structures and striving towards more egalitarian political representation.
During several forays into graduate level scholarship, Birch investigated the inter-disciplinarity of applied theatre, mythology, interfaith chaplaincy, educational psychology and the healing efficacy of non-denominational ritual. From 2013-17, having won a coveted 5-year Canadian Institute of Health Research scholarship, his doctoral research explored the social determinants of gay/queer/trans male health while applying the evolutionary theory of Positive Deviance to group erotic events.
As chair of the board for Vancouver Island Persons with AIDS society, Birch currently supports peer-run navigation processes for community health & wellness and volunteers in neighbourhood food security projects.
His work as a counsellor and psychic healer began in his mid-twenties studying with Chien Lung master, choreographer and dance impresario Constantine Darling. Over the last twenty years, Birch has been practicing ritual magic with other feminist queer cultural change agents and fellow community lovers in both the Reclaiming and Radical Faerie counter-culture traditions. He is one of several facilitators of the international Radical Faerie Sex Magic weeklong workshop created by Rad Fae elder Harry Hay, considered one of the early advocates of the LGBTQ* movement as co-founder of the Mattachine Society.