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

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.45.37 PM

Large fire at Port of Vancouver (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver firefighters and haz-mat crews are battling a large fire at Vancouver’s port on Burrard Inlet that began Wednesday afternoon. The fire was…
Continue Reading »

immigrants-work-study-bc-career

Canada-wide initiative helps immigrants find work in fields for which they have prepared

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI When Manbir Randhawa immigrated from India to B.C., she knew she’d have to “start from scratch” in order to land a…
Continue Reading »

Desi-weird news

Doctor’s afraid to release baby who ‘spontaneously combusted’ to his mom

VANCOUVER DESI Doctors in India are reluctant to release a baby who ‘spontaneously combusted’ to his mom, fearing she suffers from an attention-seeking syndrome, Britain’s…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.45.37 PM

Large fire at Port of Vancouver (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver firefighters and haz-mat crews are battling a large fire at Vancouver’s port on Burrard Inlet that began Wednesday afternoon. The fire was…
Continue Reading »

immigrants-work-study-bc-career

Canada-wide initiative helps immigrants find work in fields for which they have prepared

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI When Manbir Randhawa immigrated from India to B.C., she knew she’d have to “start from scratch” in order to land a…
Continue Reading »

Environment-Surrey-students

Surrey students grow ‘green mindedness’ at school

SARAH ORLINA SURREY NOW SURREY — On a cloudy Thursday morning, three Grade 7 students are roaming the hallways of Royal Heights Elementary school in…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Rebellious matrimonial goes viral

“Definitely not bahu material”: Indian woman’s rebellious matrimonial ad goes viral (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI When 24-year-old Indhuja Pillai’s parents put her profile on a regular matrimonial website, she couldn’t take it down soon enough. “I am no…
Continue Reading »

brutal DELHI gang rape

“What is there in spreading the views of a rapist?” India orders TV stations not to broadcast rape documentary

ASHOK SHARMA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — Indian authorities ordered television stations Tuesday not to broadcast a documentary about a gang rape on a…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

‘You are an outsider’: Community rallies around Canadian convenience store owners beaten by customer

THE CANADIAN PRESS BEAUSEJOUR, Man. — Owners of a convenience store in Manitoba who were beaten by a customer are seeing an outpouring of support….
Continue Reading »

Hands Against Racism

Hands Against Racism: Send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

bully

Video of Sikh boy being bullied, called ‘terrorist’ on school bus goes viral (w/ video)

VANCOUVER DESI A video of a young Sikh student in the U.S. being bullied and called a “terrorist” by a group of children on a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood photos

Gallery: Aishwarya Rai’s stunning photoshoot for Vogue

VANCOUVER DESI The world’s most beautiful woman, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan may have stepped away from the silver screen for a while but she says, “Comeback?…
Continue Reading »

Instagram photo

Gallery: Bollywood celebrity shots this week

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood’s growing love for selfies is self evident. More and more celebrity photos are showing up on Twitter and Instagram than ever before….
Continue Reading »

Mallika Sherawat

Indian court lifts stay on release of controversial Bollywood film ‘Dirty Politics’

IANS Patna – A day after it stayed the release of Bollywood film “Dirty Politics” in cinema halls, the Patna High Court Wednesday lifted the…
Continue Reading »