One hundred and fifty years sounds a lot easier to grasp than it is. It’s both as old as forever and younger than the average tree on the Pacific coast. And when we’re talking about an entire country, it’s not that simple. It’s multiplied among the millions of people living here, the generations that shaped us, the tides and mountains that hold us together.
— An article we published on Medium, Following the Raven
We are a duo of 20-somethings committed to collaborative work. We started planning this project in 2014, knowing that Canada’s sesquicentennial would be an important moment both for us and the country.
Based on our experiences in history, politics and community organizing, we knew we could expect a powerful mainstream narrative in 2017 celebrating Canada’s confederation and the past 150 years—a narrative that would leave out marginalized voices and experiences. With that in mind, we decided that we would spend the year documenting and amplifying those other voices as best we could.
This land holds stories that reach beyond centuries of colonization to the original inhabitants of this continent; stories that touch several generations of immigration and industry and flow through countless seasons of ecological change and resilience. These marginalized stories define our past, shape our present and form the foundation for our future.
— Our Kickstarter campaign
We identified key themes that have shaped and continue to shape Canada—topics such as colonization, food security, democracy, and started doing research and establishing connections to be able to follow those themes across the Canadian landscape. As much as we could, we sought to root ourselves in what we called the ‘enduring wayside;’ the townships, reserves, routes and ecosystems that act as repositories of memory and trauma — those that are often spoken for but rarely listened to. We committed ourselves to travelling by bicycle, and developing an online real-time map as well as a feature-length documentary.
From the start, we hoped that our ability to document these layers of Canada’s national identity would inspire and challenge our fellow citizens to think critically about their contribution to what we collectively become in the next fifty years.
Our journey begins in St. John’s on the coast of the Atlantic, the easternmost point in Canada. From there we cross the highlands of Newfoundland and Cape Breton and wind through the Maritimes to the Gaspé Peninsula. We follow the St. Lawrence River to our nation’s capital before heading northwest across Ontario and Manitoba. Throughout central Canada we are on the Yellowhead Highway, until we depart from Edmonton towards northern British Columbia and the Yukon. In the remote wilderness of the Yukon we embark on the rugged Dempster Highway to reach Inuvik and the Arctic coast before returning south. Once we reach the port of Prince Rupert in British Columbia, we take a ferry to Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island, ending our journey in Victoria on the Pacific coast.
We will cover roughly 15,000 km in the span six months, traversing coasts, mountains and Arctic tundra—and everything in between. There will be wind and rain and sunrises. Above all else, there will be an extraordinary adventure.
While we’re camping we will be adhering to Leave No Trace Principles of outdoor ethics in order to minimize our impact on the environment. We’ll also be staying at people’s houses; let us know if you’re interested in hosting us along the way.
We are Asad and Jonathon, a pair of young photographers and community-minded digital natives. More details about us are on our team page.
Our documentation is perhaps even more ambitious than our route. Throughout this project, we seek to act as both athletes and filmmakers, as well as photographers, designers, web developers, logistics coordinators, and so on. It goes without saying that in order to make this project a reality, we needed to find the right gear. Plus food.
We ran a crowdfunding campaign to gain a foundation of committed supporters. We wrote grant applications and sponsorship proposals, and connected with respected partners with whom we were eager to collaborate. The result is a carefully developed inventory that will help us share our stories and stay safe on the road.