We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve made it past our target of $15,000! Thank you all so much for your steadfast support. Our first stretch goal for this project is to raise funds for a post-expedition film screening and gathering. We will put the next $1,200 towards renting a space in Toronto to showcase our documentary film(s), share our experience and meet our backers.
Every backer on Kickstarter will automatically get an invitation to the event, and we expect to open up further invitations when we begin organizing in more detail. We’ll also endeavour to have a livestream to welcome our supporters from elsewhere in the world.
This year, we are cycling across Canada to foster a better understanding of the different histories and ecosystems embedded in our shared landscapes.
We are Canadian. With 2017 marking 150 years since our country was formally confederated, it is a critical time to examine our collective narrative. This land holds stories that reach beyond centuries of colonization to the original inhabitants of this continent; stories that touch several generations of immigration and industry and flow through countless seasons of ecological change and resilience. These marginalized stories define our past, shape our present and form the foundation for our future.
Our goal is to discover, document, and retell them.
For six months, we will bicycle 15,000 km across Canada; from the Avalon Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean, to the Mackenzie Delta near the Arctic, to Vancouver Island in the Pacific. As we cross the country, we will develop an image of Canada as it is today—a snapshot of the present that provides context from the past in order to create a vision for the future.
Our research revolves around specific themes that have shaped and continue to shape Canada—topics such as colonization, food security, democracy. It will focus on the often-quiet stories that reside in the diverse communities and wild spaces of our Canadian landscape. Our research—along with our personal experiences—will be shared through an online real-time map, a feature-length documentary and various print publications.
We hope that our ability to document and develop these layers of Canada’s national identity will inspire and challenge our fellow citizens to think critically about their contribution to what we collectively become in the next fifty years.
Read more about the project in the article Following the Raven.
This project has been the main focus of our work since mid-2016, and began years before that. For the last several months, we have been working tirelessly on design, research and communication to build the structures, logistics and relationships we will need for this project to succeed. Picture a well-developed folder in Google Drive combined with a handwritten journal on daily physical training. Right now, we’re preparing.
That comes to a close at the end of April, when we leave Ontario for the east coast. After a few days of preparation, we will bicycle out of St. John’s, Newfoundland; bound for the north and west. Our substantial route—although flexible—is the product of countless hours of research.
We aim to cycle roughly 100 km a day, spending our free hours gathering footage, processing and writing, eating and resting. There will, of course, be detours and delays, challenges as yet unknown but ultimately surmountable. The months following the expedition will be spent processing our experience into a documentary film, a coffee table book and a narrative nonfiction; produced in summation of the expedition and in recognition of this crucial moment in Canada’s history.
The $15,000 we raise on Kickstarter will be used for multiple purposes. The money raised will be used primarily for food and travel expenses, as well as to fill gaps in our combined inventory—items crucial both to the success of the project, such as a solar battery, as well as to offer the best quality of footage we can, such as an aerial camera. The cost of data coverage is to ensure we are able to share online while travelling and to maintain Mapbox Premium hosting for the duration of the expedition.
It’s worth noting that together we’re investing about $17,500 of our own funds and personal gear to make this expedition happen. That’s our level of commitment to the project and the quality of our work. Another aspect to our funding is that we’re intentionally choosing community-based organizations and crowdfunding as our sources of support, because we’d rather be beholden to fellow citizens than the comparatively celebratory government fund.
Canada is not a perfect place. Far from it. Our public discourse domestically and internationally drives this point home. But we sincerely believe that this year and these moments hold the opportunity to have a lasting impact on our culture and discourse. Learning and acknowledging the histories that surround us is essential to moving forward together.
Now more than ever we need bridges between people, communities and cultures. Projects like these are timely and necessary to shine light onto the Canada we hope to become. As a country we are not just defined by the words of our officials but by our actions. This means that what we do matters, now more than ever.
Support this project if you believe in a more democratic, just and sustainable society; or because you want to support two young, creative and committed individuals in their work.
We’ve worked hard to be able to offer high-quality rewards for your financial support. Everything is hand designed and printed as locally as possible. On top of the rewards, every single backer receives:
- Name on the website, documentary and book credits
- Shout-out on social media
- Exclusive behind-the-scenes updates from the road
We hope these previews provide confidence in our ability to set you up with something special and memorable as a thank-you for your support. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Individually, we are Asad Chishti and Jonathon Reed. Asad is an ethnographer and photographer. He cycled across Canada solo while researching happiness in 2013. Jonathon is an adventurer with roots in education and activism. He’s a photographer, videographer and writer. Together, we are Chairs and Tables, the banner under which we collaborate with individuals and organizations to do meaningful work.
We have extensive experience with documentation and collaboration, having worked on projects ranging from local to national. This background, as well as our added expertise in backcountry and bicycle travel, make us well-prepared to see this project through.
Risks and challenges
The major risk is burnout.
Cycling ~100 km nearly every single day for six months will require significant physical endurance, a challenge that will be exacerbated by the highly remote portions of the route such as Cape Breton, the BC Interior and the Yukon. Asad already has extensive experience in long-distance bike touring and Jonathon is in good shape from continued high-intensity travel and athletic training. We’re both in the midst of a daily training regimen in preparation for this challenge.
The more daunting aspect is the mental component of being on the road and on the move for so long, and continuing to stay disciplined with our original intent and aims for the project. While we are unquestionably going to see this tour through to the Arctic and Pacific, we expect to be challenged by the temptation to flag in our journalistic work by falling behind, missing details or cutting a few corners. As a team, we are well-practiced in holding each other accountable, providing honest feedback and mutual motivation. We’re coordinating data processing strategies and collaboration workflows, seeking to achieve efficiency in the months we have before hitting the tarmac.
Other risks include data loss, which we’re mitigating with vigilant use of external hard drives and the crucial element of a trusted independent production company backing up all our footage while on the road; injury or mishap while we’re isolated in northern Canada, for which we’ve arranged for an equipped accompanying vehicle; lack of data coverage in remote parts of the country, which we can’t do anything about but expect to navigate by preparing our digital updates accordingly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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