About the Film
The Trans Canada Trail is the longest trail in the world. Conceived as a concept in 1992 it is officially opening 2017. Nearly 24,000 kilometers from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans, linking 1000 Canadian communities.
On July 1st 2015, Canada Day, I will depart from mile zero in St. John’s Newfoundland of the Trans Canada trail and shall attempt to bike, hike and paddle the 24,000 km route across Canada.
I intend to film an independent feature documentary and write a non-fiction book about the journey as I have done on my two previous films.
My vision is to make a documentary that explores four themes, ART – SPIRIT- ECOLOGY-STORY. I perceive these four themes to be like the four quarters of a circle.
There is a tradition in Canada of the artist going into vast empty spaces of wilderness to capture the essence of this land. The poetry, the drumbeats, the smell of cedar, and the big sky, our identity has been bound to the idea of wilderness and nature.
And artists of this land, the early indigenous artists, the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, Bill Reid, and Christopher Pratt to name a few have represented these landscapes in their art.
This journey is in part homage to this spirit to understand our art and ourselves as it ties into our relationship with the landscape of the Canadian wilderness.
Joseph Campbell wrote that, “Science see’s the fact’s, the artist see’s the story.” Facing a global ecological crisis, I go to understand the story.
I was recently doing some filming with a Mi’kmaq elder, and she shared their story passed down through centuries about Columbus.
“ Yes, we have that story, although it is a different one then what he wrote in his journals. “ and she laughed. “ His story said the people here were primitives, that we worshipped them when their boat arrived. Her story says that when our people went to welcome the foreigners to this land, the men on the boat smelled so bad our ancestors folded their hands over their noses and bowed to greet them so they wouldn’t be rude. “
As I travel I will seek to juxtapose first nation oral stories with European written ones. I have both European and first nation blood in my DNA. I feel a sense of identification with both sides: the oppressed and the oppressors. The story of my journey, and the way the film is made, is about the fusion of these distinct ways of seeing the world.
Canada’s national symbols are reflective of narratives about nature, wilderness and landscapes. It is somewhat of a paradoxical relationship; we have this Canadian fiction of nature and the wilderness, the myth of the Canadian identity perpetuated by our symbols like a beaver on our nickel and a maple leaf on our flag. And the other side of the paradox is of course the non-fiction of an economy built upon the exploitation of resources and consequent destruction of this nature.
I feel the Canada of today is not the one I grew up with in the 1970’s. As a fisherman recently said to me, we used to live in a society, now we live in an economy. At a time of rising seas, changing climate, polluted atmosphere and oceans, and a population on antidepressants and anxiety medications it is time to revisit our myths and identity. Maybe every thing we need to know we have forgotten. So I return to the original Garden of Eden, the domain of Mother Nature stripped of my lattes and warm comforts to rediscover all that which has been forgotten.
Every morning while I am on the trail I shall start my day by burning sage and cedar and hold space for two of the 1186 murdered aboriginal women in Canada. I hope by the time I have done the trail I would have said prayer for all of them. I plan on approaching other artists who have made work about this for images to weave into the edit. That for me is the sacred part of the journey.
As for my personal motivation, at some point everyone loses their way. We make goals that define if we are winning or losing the game. We measure success by the yardstick of how much our net worth is, and happiness is the Holy Grail we search for, instead of being with any given moment. Which leads me to the personal reason for this journey that I share with millions of people on their pilgrimages; knowledge of true self.
At almost 50 I find myself now alone, my dog of 18 years has died, my marriage ended and my attempts at loving another plagued by a desire to bolt like a horse frothing at the mouth. So I have rented out my home, put my broken down car into storage, and stepping off the board game back into the wild, where I have no mortgage, car insurance, internet, hydro, or credit cards. I know there are dangers, nature is an indifferent mother, and her lessons can be hard. I have felt the bite of an arctic wind and the thin air of Everest. But the only clarity I have ever had has been in her silence.