WE THE NORTH

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INONEKEY es­say of the cel­e­bra­tory and sump­tu­ous new sesqui­cen­ten­nial cof­fee-ta­ble book Glo­ri­ous & Free (House of Anansi Press, $50, avail­able at Holt Ren­frew and book­stores across Canada), writer Ta­batha Southey likens the im­pulse to de­fine who we are to at­tempt­ing to give one­self a nick­name. She right­fully posits that “the very act of defin­ing our­selves feels like a rather Amer­i­can thing to do.” So in­stead of defin­ing, Glo­ri­ous & Free takes the tit­u­lar pas­sage from the na­tional an­them as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore the many tal­ented multi-hy­phen­ates work­ing in cre­ative fields to­day. To es­chew 150 years of Cana­di­ana clichés, the am­per­sand of the ti­tle looms large — it’s the end­less and var­ied “and” that comes closest to cap­tur­ing a com­mon iden­tity, since no Cana­dian is ever any one thing: we’re about in­di­vid­ual and un­usual ori­gins as much as this shared home­land des­ti­na­tion.

Kim Bozak and Rita Field-Mar­shal spear­head the project: al­most 400 pages pro­file 33 con­tem­po­rary Cana­di­ans at home and abroad, look­ing be­yond the usual sus­pects. Sub­jects range from Ottawa-born twin brothers By­ron and Dex­ter Peart of the bur­geon­ing style em­pire WANT les Essen­tiels de la Vie, and Win­nipeg writer and doc­u­men­tar­ian Kather­ena Ver­mette to Bri­tish-born and Bar­ba­dos-bred Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val artis­tic direc­tor Cameron Bai­ley and Trinidad-born, Cal­gary-raised G Ad­ven­tures travel en­tre­pre­neur Bruce Poon Tip. With un­con­ven­tional in­ter­pre­tive il­lus­tra­tion through­out by best­selling au­thor (and fre­quent New Yorker cover artist) Frank Viva and with a fore­word by Booker Prize-win­ning nov­el­ist Yann Mar­tel, it’s a re­fresh­ingly pris­matic view of in­no­va­tive Cana­di­ans through in­ter­views and per­sonal pho­to­graphs that, like frag­men­tary mood boards, re­flect on what Canada means and how it con­tin­ues to in­spire. Like those mon­u­men­tal photo col­lages that, in turn, bring an­other pic­ture into view, their tal­ents tran­scend and trans­form what it means to be Cana­dian to­day. For what that might mean tomorrow or in 150 more years, there are infinite more “ands.” — Nathalie Atkin­son

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