Remembering Graeme Gibson


Adventure Canada photographer Scott Forsyth wrote this lovely remembrance of Graeme Gibson — a fitting tribute from one artist to another.

Each time the spirit of a person we know who has touched us with inspiration, passes from human existence, it becomes a personal loss along our own journey of time, that conjures reflection on mortality. It is with sadness that the news of Graeme Gibons’s passing reached me through on the day of our re-entry from Greenland to Toronto. An appropriate setting, since it is the North that gave rise to my crossing paths with Graeme.

I’ve chosen this impressionistic photograph of the bird sanctuary on Prince Leopold Island to honour him, because he left me with an indelible impression, and he loved birds.

I met Graeme during an Adventure Canada staff and passenger briefing in preparation for departure to the Arctic. We were both picking through the buffet while the presentations were being held in the background. It was my first trip to the Arctic and I’m sure he could sense my excitement and when I asked him if he’s ever been there before he looked up and into my eyes for a moment, realizing I’m clueless, and then proceeded to answer in a kind and welcoming manner.

I had no idea who he was, and as usual just learned much more about him through his obituary today than I’d ever known. I think he liked my ignorance, and we quickly became walking partners on several occasions as he introduced me to the nature of the Arctic. When we first encountered icebergs grounded on the beaches he called me over and pulled out his knife to chisel a chunk of this ancient fresh water for me to taste, and later adorn with Scotch aboard the ship.

It was important for him that we experience a visceral, rather than just intellectual, connection to where we are. I could sense his knowledge of nature and his insights into the natural ecological systems around us. I was fortunate enough to travel to the Arctic with him on two additional trips and each time the experience left me with another layer of appreciation for the natural world.

It has occurred to me at times that in 150 years from now, nobody alive today will still be living ( I know … science may change that .. but you know what I mean). That means that the entire human collective of knowledge about our earth and its history, geology, nature, music, art …. everything, needs to be passed forward perpetually through education, culture, parenting, and mentorships. All of us living today are custodians of the past wisdoms and mistakes, and it is our duty to preserve this for the future. We can be thankful for the perspectives of people like Graeme; there is no higher achievement than to add to our collective perspective through time.

You will be missed, but thank you Graeme.

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