CANMORE – Two intrepid explorers will be sharing their experiences of travelling to Canada’s most remote environments in an evening of eye-opening photography paired with intimate musical melodies.
Canadian Geographic photographer-in-residence Scott Forsyth will be sharing images and stories from his new book Wild Coasts of Canada at Canmore Brewing Company next Thursday (Dec. 5). Forsyth’s presentation will be paired with music inspired by Canada’s unique cultures and environments that span from coast-to-coast from singer-songwriter David Newland.
“Scott [Forsyth] is a very accomplished photographer and writer,” Newland said. “We decided that rather then him doing an ordinary book tour … we would do something a little different — a presentation performance hybrid.”
It has been an interesting challenge bringing the mediums together to create the Wild Coasts of Canada presentation, Forsyth added, explaining it has been a new experience for the duo.
“We’re trying to make it a multi-media effect, so people really get a sense of the heights and the emotional attachment to the landscape,” Forsyth said.
The concert will feature Forsyth’s images paired with Newland’s music in a celebration of Canada’s ocean coasts.
“The concept of the book is introducing Canadians to our own coastlines,” Forsyth said. “All three oceans.”
In his experience, many people are often unfamiliar with Canada’s coasts, Forsyth said, explaining he has found when he presents his images and stories it can be an eye-opening experience for audiences.
“Unless you’re from the area, you probably haven’t heard much about them,” he said. “My mission is to try and disseminate basic facts of Canada … to Canadians.”
Forsyth added that he hopes people will discover how much there is to learn about Canada, its unique cultures and vast landscapes.
“It’s a powerful show, it moves people,” Forsyth said. “For every Canadian, northern identity and the sense of choice and connection to the land is a subject of interest — it’s right at the heart of this show.”
They are excited to share stories from their expeditions to Canada’s most pristine and isolated environments, Newland said.
Education is a key component of their presentation, he said, adding they share stories of the relocation of Indigenous people from across the country and the relationships they have built with survivors and their communities.
“They are people who suffered terribly from bad decisions made by colonial governments.”
Newland said these difficult stories of survival, healing and forgiveness help foster a feeling of appreciation and inspiration through their resilience.
The duo is motivated to share these lessons with others while celebrating the connections between people, cultures and landscapes using personal stories and experiences.
“We’re both guys that are very captivated by the beauty of landscapes,” Newland said. “But … it’s the cultural connections that really make it rich. Scott [Forsyth] has had very meaningful experiences with Haida folks on Haida Gwaii. We’ve both found connections with Inuits in Labrador and the Canadian Arctic.”
As Canadians, there is a shared cultural experience of embracing the beauty of the country’s vast and inspiring landscapes, Newland added, but there is not always an acknowledgement of the people, especially Indigenous, who live on those lands.
“One of the things we want to highlight is our relationship to these landscapes have to be based in our relationship with the people whose homeland they are,” Newland said. “That’s a really profound and important lesson – it deepens our relationship with landscapes if we don’t see it as an empty place and ourselves as the new discoverers. We're people coming as guests.”
Newland said he hopes the audience can carry this message home to share with other community members.
Most Canadians have ties and an interest in the landscape, Newland said, and it is always important to nurture that connection through first-hand experience and knowledge sharing.
“Frankly, I don’t think we get enough of those connections – especially deeply personal connections,” Newland said. “I think a sense of personal witness and connection to landscape is something that moves everybody. I think that if you can double down on that connection with photographs, stories and songs that have an emotional resonance and that places you in a context – it’s more then just beauty."
If people walk away feeling more curious, engaged, passionate and connected to the people, culture, landscape and Canadian identity in 2019, Newland said, they will have found success with their presentation.
“This is a time for us to deeply connect to all the people of this land and to the land itself,” Newland said. “We’re really excited about it.”
The show will feature two 45-minutes sets with a 15-minute intermission.
Forsyth and Newland will be at the Canmore Brewing Company to present Wild Coasts of Canada: Canmore on Thursday (Dec. 5) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $20.