TELEVISION: Great Canadian wilderness explored through immigrants’ eyes

Published: November 28, 2012

Bangladeshi immigrants Kazi Hossain and his wife, Shamima Parvin, enjoy some rafting along the Saskatchewan River. Submitted photo

JAMIE HALL
POSTMEDIA NEWS

When Shamima Parvin moved to the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka to get her degree in pharmacy, she sometimes felt as though she was being swallowed whole by the big-city concrete that surrounded her. Now living in Edmonton with her husband Kazi Hossain, she still sees concrete when she looks out her window. But she also sees trees and hears birds. And she marvels at the endless Alberta sky.

“You have all the facilities of the city, but in the meantime you can enjoy nature,” says Parvin. “It’s everywhere.”

The couple is among several new Canadians featured in a documentary by Edmonton filmmaker Brandy Yanchyk, set to air on OMNI on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9 p.m. Nature’s Invitation follows immigrants in Calgary and Edmonton as they explore Alberta’s wilderness through nature programs offered by Parks Canada and Alberta Parks.

In a bit of serendipity, Yanchyk came upon the programs when she moved back to Canada after working in England for several years, keen to experience Alberta in all its glory.

“I never went camping or backpacking as a kid,” says Yanchyk, who grew up in Ontario. “So when I moved here with my English boyfriend in 2009, I just decided I wanted to learn to camp. That’s when I found these learn-to-camp programs for immigrants. I thought: ‘This is perfect; I make films about new immigrants,’ so I pitched the idea for a documentary to OMNI to see if they were interested. And they were.”

In 2010, Yanchyk produced, wrote and directed Brooks: The City of 100 Hellos, a documentary about how immigration challenges a cowboy town. And in 2008, she shot Desert to Ice, which followed the lives of nine Palestinian refugees from Iraq who were resettled in Iceland. It aired on BBC.

Yanchyk and her crew spent the summer of 2011 tagging along with immigrants on adventures that took them to lakes, rivers and parks across Alberta, including Banff, Jasper, Elk Island and Waterton Lakes. She found all of her interview subjects for the hour-long film through the Edmonton Immigrant Services Association and the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN).

EMCN director of language services Judy Silver says the agency has been involved in the nature programs for three years and has so far taken immigrants on nearly a dozen different excursions. The majority had never camped before and for many, it was their first trip outside city limits.

RELATED STORY:

“Lots of them don’t have vehicles, so they have no way to get out of the city. And they don’t speak very much English.”

For some, the barriers went far beyond economics or logistics. “A lot of them come from horrendous backgrounds, and have spent time in refugee camps,” says Silver, “so there’s a real fear associated with being out in the country that they needed to get over. Once they did, they found it to be really rich and rewarding to connect with nature in a positive way.”

Parvin and her husband found out about the nature programs through Edmonton Immigrant Services. They went on a four-hour rafting trip down the North Saskatchewan River through RiverWatch.

“We have boats in my country, but I had never been on a raft before,” says Parvin. “It was very exciting, to actually be on the water. We are planning next to go whitewater rafting, now that we have had that experience.”

The trips weren’t without challenges, however, especially when it came to the weather. Yanchyk says a mother and daughter from Colombia spent a sleepless night in their tent, discovering first-hand how cold it can get at night in the mountains, even in summer.

“You know what, though,” says Yanchyk. “The next day, we went to the Columbia Ice-fields and that turned out to be the highlight of their trip.”

Silver says another overnight outing to Dinosaur Provincial Park turned ugly when a severe rainstorm blew tents down in the middle of the night and generally wreaked havoc in the camp.

“We had to get out and secure all the tents,” she says. “Some of the moms and girls were crying. Funny thing is, though, the next morning it had calmed down and everyone came out of their tents with big smiles on their faces. They were so proud. It was like: ‘I’ve done it. I am a Canadian now.’”






Featured

dog-rock-tar

Video: Rescue story of a dog that fell into hot tar and turned into a rock

VANCOUVER DESI A team of animal rescuers in Western India spent two days working to free a helpless dog trapped in a pile of hot…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-crime

Surrey Sikh temple hit-and-run still a mystery after two years

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY — Surrey Mounties believe somebody must have seen something that can help investigators solve a hit-and-run crash that happened two…
Continue Reading »

Pakistan

Kids sweatshirts made in Pakistan and sold at Kroger, Fred Meyer stores in the U.S. recalled for choking hazard

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — Nearly 8,000 children’s hoodies are being recalled because of a possible choking risk. No injuries have been reported, but…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

The cost of not controlling Ebola in Africa? Cases elsewhere, experts warn

By Helen Branswell THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — The revelation that a man with Ebola was diagnosed in a Texas hospital could be seen as…
Continue Reading »

Health Canada bans some drug imports from India; cites quality concerns

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Health Canada says it is banning imports of some medications and drug ingredients produced in India due to concerns about…
Continue Reading »

The cost of not controlling Ebola in Africa? Cases elsewhere, experts warn

By Helen Branswell THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — The revelation that a man with Ebola was diagnosed in a Texas hospital could be seen as…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

body image-beauty-weight-control

Self-compassion leads to positive body image in women

IANS Toronto – Women who accept and tolerate their bodily imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their high body mass index…
Continue Reading »

British comedian John Oliver takes aim at Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's U.S. visit on his HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. YouTube/Screengrab.

British comedian John Oliver again covers Indian politics in HBO show, takes aim at Modi’s U.S. visit (w/ video)

VANCOUVER DESI British comedian John Oliver has covered Indian politics yet again on his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In this…
Continue Reading »

1INDIA_INTERNATIONAL_KITE_FESTIVAL_213745704

Last remaining family member of Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh dies in Toronto

IANS Chandigarh — The younger sister and last remaining blood relative of revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh has died in Canada, according to relatives in…
Continue Reading »

Komagata Maru

India honours 100-year anniversary of Komagata Maru with commemorative coins

IANS New Delhi — India on Monday released a set of special coins as part of a year-long centenary commemoration of the 1914 Komagata Maru…
Continue Reading »

Sandy Sidhu main.jpg

Nanaimo’s Sandy Sidhu to appear in film at VIFF, but the actress is still waiting for her big break

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI It took years for Nanaimo’s Sandy Sidhu to admit that she was an aspiring actress. Enrolled at UBC for cell biology…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Shah Rukh Khan Deepika Padukone Bollywood sex

Shah Rukh Khan: My films are never male-oriented (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Shah Rukh Khan may be a name big enough to make a film a blockbuster on his own, but he says that his…
Continue Reading »

Sonam Kapoor

Gallery: 10 celebs who did not let diabetes rule their lives

VANCOUVER DESI Did you know Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor has been living with Diabetes from her teen years? And her Pakistani co-star in Khoobsurat — Fawad…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Indian court blocks 72 websites from streaming Bollywood movie ‘Bang Bang’

IANS New Delhi – The Delhi High Court Tuesday directed various internet and telecom service providers to block access to 72 websites hosting the yet-to-be…
Continue Reading »