Twin Flames: One song at a time

TwinFlames

It was a special thrill for us at Adventure Canada to see the nominations this week for the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards. Among the nominees are the inspiring husband & wife duo, Twin Flames (Jaaji Okpik and Chelsey June). We had recently invited Twin Flames aboard our expedition to Greenland & Wild Labrador 2018. What better time to introduce them to our audience than on the heels of an IMA nomination! 

Congratulations on your recent nomination best folk album in the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards. How does it feel to be named along with the likes of Buffy Ste. Marie?

We are super honoured every time we are nominated alongside legends in Indigenous music. Buffy is a legend and also a woman which means so much to me (Chelsey). Buffy is an Indigenous woman who has made it in the industry in a time when women and Indigenous peoples were still secondary. It is awesome that our music is gaining recognition and is being considered in a category with her. It is a testament to how far we have come in so little time.

You both had worked independently as musical artists. What brought you together?

We met on a TV Show for upcoming Aboriginal Artists (TAM on APTN) which was being filmed in Quebec Cit.  Jaaji was representing Inuit and Mohawk from the North, and Chelsey, Metis from the South.

Now you’re a couple, working together, travelling together, performing together, and making a life together. How do you do it?

We are best friends as well as a couple. We are very grateful for the life we lead, and that we get to share so many amazing adventures together. We have the same view on our dreams and goals, and each time we accomplish them together is a celebration. 

Together, you’re presenting a mosaic of identities. What moves you to make your music? Is there a core message you’re hoping to share?

Yes: our key message is “we are all human”. No matter our race or where we come from, we are all able to relate through music. Music is our international language. We can gently educate people about our cultures and where we come from and the journeys that we have lived. We hope one day our people will be treated as equals. We also try to remind people that there is hope and that good things can happen. We are living proof that with dedication and hard work dreams are possible.

You sing in English, French, and Inuktitut. As you travel and perform across the country, what kind of reactions do you see from your varied audience ?

We are storytellers and sharing our languages through music helps us to share our stories. People are generally intrigued, and many audience members have expressed how amazing they feel to listen to music in a language they do not understand while still feeling the emotion of the song. For those that do understand, they feel a great sense of pride that their languages are being shared and preserved. Again, music is an international language.

You put out your first album together in 2015, and since then you’ve won Aboriginal Songwriters of the Year twice at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, earned multiple other award nominations, and hit #1 on the National Aboriginal Countdown for your single “Porchlight”.  How does it feel to have your work honoured like this?

We feel extremely privileged an honoured receiving recognition for our work. We love what we do and work really hard putting one hundred per cent into it all. As Indigenous, Inuit, Metis artists we are proud to share our music nationally and Internationally. Our main objective is to give voices to our people in our communities that don’t always have one, to bring to the forefront issues that are communities and youth are facing and to break stereotypes.

The biggest reward we receive is the love from our fans and the youth we get to work with through music. Our fans are the reason we have made it to where we are. Inspiring one person to live a good life and to believe in themselves is why we do what we do. We want to bring happiness everywhere we go one song at a time.

The single, Porchlight, highlights the plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. What’s been the reaction to that song among your audience?

We wrote this song with no intention to ever publicly release it. We met a man at the Indigenous music awards in 2015 who asked if he could take a photograph with us and his little sister. He handed us a picture frame and explained that she went missing years ago and that he and his family never received any closure or any answers in her disappearance.

In that moment both of us were shot with a deep pain in our hearts. This was the first story of many that were to follow. The man we met urged us to release this song once we sent it to him. He used it in his National campaign for MMIWG which went on to become a comfort song to those living the movement and searching for answers. This song has become a way for people to release their pain for a moment to remember the loved ones no longer with us and know that we remember them.

How does making music help address the issues, including MMIWG, that confront Indigenous people in Canada today?

We are given a voice through our music, one which we are very humbled to receive. We share our stories and the stories of our people. The truth is that many Canadians have no clue as to what has happened throughout our history and the trauma which it has caused many of our people. Music gives us the platform to gently educate and maybe shine a bit of light on the issues—as well as the beauty that exists among the resilience, and the strength to still be here today. 

TwinFlames2It can get tiring on the road, tiring making music, and especially tiring trying to shed light on difficult subjects. What keeps you going?

We are doing what we love. The energy that we receive from the audience every time we play refuels us. When we receive the messages of how we have impacted someone’s life in a positive way, helped them find hope, even changed their mind to not take their own life in a moment when they felt they had nothing left… These are all reasons for us to keep going. A hug from a fan or a child that looks at us with awe and inspiration.

We may not be mainstream music but we are reaching people writing songs with deep meaning and living our dream.

You’ve come so far, so fast—what do you think is next for Twin Flames?

We would love to further break into mainstream music, and see Indigenous artists represented equally, at the same level as Canadian artists. We also love to travel so the more places we get to play the better. We are hoping to branch into Europe and Australia and venture more into the U.S. market.

Our third album is currently in the works which will be very interesting as we come more into ourselves as artists. The best part of what we are living is that real life has surpassed our most crazy dreams, so we will keep on dreaming and when those dreams come true we will make new ones. One song at a time.

What do you look forward to most about visiting Greenland, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Newfoundland & Labrador with Adventure Canada this fall?

We love that our music brings us to all different places. We are really looking forward to Greenand! We have not had the chance to visit Greenland yet and it has been on our bucket list of places to go and see. As for Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Newfoundland & Labrador: those locations we never get tied of seeing and visiting. The spirits there have come to know us and it feels like a homecoming each time we return. Always new things to discover and beauty that surpasses imagination!

Join Jaaji and Chelsey June aboard Adventure Canada’s expedition cruise to Greenland and Wild Labrador, September 18 – October 2, 2018.

What Farley Knew

The late Canadian author, environmentalist, self-promoter, and shit-disturber Farley Mowat was born on this day in 1921. Nearly ninety-two years later, on May 6 of 2014, he died. Between those dates Mowat led a legendary life. A polarizing personality, he was widely loved and yet frequently reviled.

Pinocchio MowatIt’s Mowat’s storytelling that will remain his greatest legacy, and drew his most vociferous criticism. “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” was his mantra, and Mowat was duly dubbed “Hardly Know It” by many serious scientists, experts, and ordinary folk—especially Northerners—fed up with his penchant for myth-making. Saturday Night magazine depicted Farley Mowat as Pinocchio in a cover story that catalogued his errors, exaggerations and outright fibs.

For his part, Mowat claimed his wildly popular books—he sold 17 million of them, all over the world—brought much needed attention to serious causes: the starvation of the Ahalmuit (People of the Deer); the demonization of wolves (Never Cry Wolf); the plight of whales (A Whale for the Killing), seals and other marine life (Sea of Slaughter).

The factuality of Mowat’s work may often be sketchy, but his skill as a storyteller is undeniable. As Up Here noted in a reevaluation in 2009, (Farley Mowat: Liar or Saint?) the North has been hard on its writers at the best of times, and Hardly Know It might well have been reviled for his unpopular stance even if he’d been a stickler for accuracy.

LiarOrSaint

Certainly, if history judges his books by their emotional substance, Farley Mowat’s legacy will be a favourable one. Sympathy for wild creatures was once considered sentimental. Criticism of British and Canadian patriarchal authority in the North was weak-kneed. And advocacy for the Inuit way of life was anything but common when Farley Mowat first put pen to paper.

These were ideas Mowat introduced, and stood by, early on in his career. All are clearly in evidence in his Top of the World Trilogy. This compendium of old explorer’s journals, spanning several centuries, edited with commentary by Mowat, is well worth re-reading now: it’s vintage Mowat, and yet, published in 1973, it was well ahead of its time.

Favouring overlooked, underdog explorers like Samuel Hearne, Francis McClintock, and Captain Thierry Mallet, Mowat’s selections and commentary subvert the typical hero narrative, heaping scorn on hapless colonizers of the North acting on orders from far away, including the otherwise iconic Sir John Franklin.

Such views are common, if not dominant today, even in the South. Would that be the case without Farley Mowat? Clearly his most egregious missteps and misstatements will not stand the test of time, nor should they. But on what would have been his ninety-fourth birthday, perhaps we can admit that on some subjects, at least, Farley Knew It after all.

Editor’s note: the late Farley Mowat travelled as a special guest aboard Adventure Canada expeditions in 1995 and 1997. Among his many contributions he taught us invaluable lessons about garnering cheap publicity.

For a definitive take on this issue, see Ken McGoogan‘s thorough and beautiful overview of Farley Mowat’s literary legacy from the National Post.

Hinterland Hee Hee

In the vast reaches of the high Arctic, muted hues are often the order of the day, leaving the photographic eye to rove in search of dramatic colours. Luckily, our passengers and staff, geared up for their hikes and excursions, provide all the colours of the rainbow!

Videographer Pat McGowan of InMotion Production Group found a created this loving tribute to the glory of gear, with a gentle nod to that beloved Canadian institution, the Hinterland Who’s Who clip. Pat has captured in action a critter many adventure travellers will find familiar… Enjoy!

Cedar Swan, Globe catalyst nominee

catalyst-swan00sr1We’re very proud of our V.P., Cedar Bradley-Swan: she’s been named one of ten nominees for the Globe and Mail‘s Catalyst series, searching for creative Canadians.

We’re delighted for Cedar. In a small, family run business like Adventure Canada, we can’t help but feel Cedar’s recognition shines a bright light on all our efforts.

Perhaps most importantly, we note that in the Globe ‘s recent profile and video of Cedar she reveals what motivates her: the beauty of the Arctic, and the incredible spirit of the people who call the North ‘home’. We share those feelings too.

Congratulations, Cedar, on your nomination! It is indeed an honour.

 

25th anniversary brochure!

Click to scroll through the brochure online!

Click to scroll through the brochure online!

For months now, the team at Adventure Canada has been working on something our guests look forward to year after year: our new brochure.

Adventure Canada travellers love to dream, and we know they often thumb the pages of our brochures time and again as they plan the perfect adventure.

This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of our first tour, to the Arctic in 1988. So we went to extra effort to celebrate the milestone.

The trips we’re featuring for 2013-2014 are chosen from among our very best – including a new trip to Sable Island, and a return to Antarctica in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Endurance expedition. We think the look and feel of this beautiful document reflects the craft and care that went into planning these amazing trips.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new brochure, Canada and the North. If you’d like a copy for your coffee table or night stand, just let us know.

To view in full screen mode, click on the expand icon (a small square inside a larger square.)

Robert Service poetry contest

2000-A289PoetryContestweb

Up Here Magazine is running a Robert Service poetry contest, and with a brief proviso, we’re here to tell you about it and encourage you to enter.

The proviso: we can’t agree with the suggestion that Robert Service is ‘our greatest-ever Northerner.’ He wasn’t from the North, didn’t stay in the North, and never returned to the North after leaving Dawson City in 1912.

Still, ‘The Bard of the Yukon’ wrote some classic poetry, and did much to popularize the special qualities of the Canadian North, mythic or otherwise.

And, we love poetry. So we encourage you to put put pen to paper and submit your poem.

We just hope that the suggested ‘Northern’ theme will be open to interpretation. One man’s vision, however brilliant, is not enough to define a region as rich, as diverse, and as anciently populated as the North.

Cruise Nunavut

This gorgeous video from Canada’s North will look familiar to many AC guests: it was shot aboard our beloved ship, Sea Adventurer.

In fact you can see the AC flag flying from the mast!

If you’ve cruised Nunavut before, you’ll know the magic. If you haven’t, well, maybe this is your year.

Join us for one of these amazing Nunavut cruises:
Heart of the Arctic, June 24 – July 6, 2013
Into the Northwest Passage, Aug. 6 – Aug. 20, 2013
Out of the Northwest Passage, Aug. 20 – Sept. 5, 2013

Gorgeous Greenland

Greenland – Rough. Real. Remote. from media.gl on Vimeo.

Whatever your current impressions of Greenland, you’re bound to have your eyes opened by this stunning video.

Featuring Red Bull trial biker, Petr Kraus, this trailer for the video series Greenland – Rough. Real. Remote is beautifully shot, superbly edited, and just as compelling for the ears as it is for the eyes.

We couldn’t watch just once, and we bet you won’t either.

You can find out more about the making of this film from the crew at 99backcountry.com

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Visit Greenland this summer on one of these Adventure Canada voyages:
Scotland to Greenland, June 12 – June 24, 2013
Heart of the Arctic, June 24, 2013 – July 6, 2013
Arctic Explorer, July 27, 2013 – Aug. 6, 2013
Into the Northwest Passage, Aug. 6 – Aug. 20, 2013
Out of the Northwest Passage, Aug. 20 – Sept. 5, 2013
Greenland & Wild Labrador, Sept. 5 – Sept. 18, 2013