Friday, February 13, 2015

Reprint: M-K 2015 Artist and Storytelling Retreats

Announcing the Muskwa-Kechika 2015 Artist and Storytelling Retreats

Imagine sitting around a fire deep in the wilds and experiencing the spine-tingling stories of Ivan Coyote and Art Napoleon amidst moose and caribou while listening to the calls of loons or splashes of otters.

Or how about feeling your creative juices flow after spirited talks with award winning poets Ariel Gordon and Melanie Siebert on the shoulder of a mountain where few humans have walked?

Wayne Sawchuk of Muskwa-Kechika Adventures and Donna Kane of Writing on the Ridge are working to make this happen.

In the summer of 2015, artists will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the greatest wilderness in the Rocky Mountains while honing their craft in the company of exceptional mentors.

From August 9-16, artists working in a wide variety of disciplines (e.g. visual art, writing, photography, video, music) will fly from Muncho Lake to Mayfield Lake, deep in the heart of the Muskwa-Kechika, to explore their craft against the backdrop of nature and wilderness.

Under the mentorship of acclaimed Winnipeg writer, Ariel Gordon, author of two books of nature poetry and winner of the John Lent Poetry-Prose Award, and poet and backcountry guide Melanie Siebert, whose first book of poetry, Deepwater Vee, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, artists will broaden their perceptions of nature and wilderness.

“The artist retreats that ran from 2006-2009 produced a wonderful variety of work that has been shown in galleries and published in books and journals across the country,” says Donna Kane, director of Writing on the Ridge. “We are delighted to be able to provide another opportunity in 2015.”

In all, over 50 artists have taken part in past retreats, including internationally renowned artist Brian Jungen and poets Don McKay, Elizabeth Bachinsky, and Sue Sinclair.

From August 16-23, storytellers will gather at Mayfield Lake under the inspired mentorship of storytellers Ivan Coyote and Art Napoleon.

“Getting the chance to hear stories from Art and Ivan around a campfire will be a highlight for me—it’s going to be an incredible experience!” says Wayne Sawchuk.

Art Napoleon is an award-winning songwriter, storyteller and humorist with a mystic's heart. Former Chief of the Saulteau First Nations, Art also stars in the television show, Moosemeat and Marmalade, which premiered in January of 2015. This revolutionary new cooking show contrasts traditional First Nations’ and World Cuisine cooking styles.

Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author and a renowned performer, Ivan’s first love is live storytelling and over the last nineteen years has become an audience favourite at sold out shows from Anchorage to Amsterdam. Ivan Coyote’s newest book “Gender Failure,” co- authored with Rae Spoon, is a poignant collection of autobiographical essays, lyrics, and images that reveal that gender comes in more than two sizes.

All in all, it’s an impressive line-up. Add the setting of pristine wilderness, friendly horses, and like-minded campmates, and the 2015 retreats promise an unforgettable experience.

The goal of the retreats, besides sheer enjoyment and honing one’s skills as an artist, is to raise awareness of the Muskwa-Kechika. The greatest wilderness in the Rockies, it boasts more species of large mammals, in greater abundance, than anywhere else in North America. Participants will be asked to contribute a story or written piece that features the MK to a web-based site, as a means of bringing this globally important area to a wider audience.

For more information on the retreats visit or contact Wayne Sawchuk at (250) 759-4993 or .

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