Understanding our nation
FOR ALMOST 90 YEARS, Canadian Geographic has shone a light on the wonder of Canada’s nature and history. The magazine launched long before Canadians watched television, surfed the web or held a smartphone in the palm of their hands. And yet, while the technologies we use have changed, the publication’s core mandate hasn’t: informative, compelling, fact-based journalism about the people and places that make our country so remarkable. I love Canadian Geographic and it’s an honour to be guest editor for this issue. As Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I’m focusing my editorship on many of the topics that our government and the magazine care deeply about: climate action, protecting Canada’s nature and wildlife, and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. In past issues, Canadian Geographic has done groundbreaking work. They’ve highlighted solutions to the crisis of our rapidly warming world, profiled incredible female explorers and surveyed the rich tapestry of Indigenous languages in Canada. These are the stories I know Canadians are interested in, and stories I am proud to help tell in an engaging way. In the following pages, you’ll read about amazing people and places from coast to coast to coast. You’ll learn about an excellent initiative called the Indigenous Guardians program (page 38), see startling images of the impacts of climate change on Canada’s landscape (page 56) and learn from scientists across our land who are researching endangered species such as caribou and the beluga whale (page 44). You will also read our interview with journalist and author Tanya Talaga, whose powerful story of the dark legacy of residential schools in northern Ontario, Seven Fallen Feathers, won the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction (it’s a must-read). And finally, you can read our conversation with author and artist Douglas Coupland, who some call the voice of Generation X (my generation!), the title of his first book. Right now, through his Vortex exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium, he is the voice of our oceans, screaming out for waters unspoiled by plastic pollution. We live in a special country. Clear blue lakes dot the Canadian Shield, thick swaths of forest cover the boreal region, and in the West, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains jut skyward along the Continental Divide. Along all three coasts we are surrounded by an endless expanse of deep oceans. These are spaces that Indigenous Peoples have called home for millennia, and spaces that continue to support us today. They have sustained hunting and agriculture, nurtured towns and cities, and provided a backdrop for the story of our country. Catherine Mckenna reviews layouts of this issue with (right to left) COO and publisher Gilles Gagnier, editor-in-chief Aaron Kylie and creative director Javier Frutos.
Today, the story of this nation continues, yet with new realities. Climate change is transforming our society. Glaciers are receding, storms and fires are becoming more powerful, and in the Arctic, rising temperatures are transforming the way Inuit have lived for generations. It’s because of the beauty of our land and the urgency of this problem that Canadians must act, in big and small ways, to improve the sustainability of our communities. And it’s why, as an advocate for Canada’s natural and historical heritage, I believe the more appreciation we have of our country, the better. Canadian Geographic gives us stories that help us better understand our nation. Through balanced and rigorous reporting, and with a team of some of Canada’s most talented journalists, the magazine is an indispensable institution with an ability to illuminate, educate and inspire. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you the ideas and hard work that went into this issue. So, take a moment and enjoy! — Catherine Mckenna