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          Seat Map
Seats in York U Family Cinema Lecture Hall don't have hard-coded seat numbers. We will place temporary seat numbers using non-adhesive tape (requirement), and it's likely they will not hold in position throughout the event. It is, therefore, good for you to have the seat map handy so you can orient yourself. Volunteers will provide assistance.
         Refunds - correction
I erroneously informed you that interac payments would be refunded for the cost of the meals in the same manner - by e-transfer. Turns out that's expensive, so I'll write cheques for the amount of prepaid meals - for those of you that paid before venue change was announced. You can pick those up at the table in front of the entrance to the Lecture Hall.
Since we no longer have meal vouchers as a part of the ticket, there'll be no tickets to pick up. I'll print the seat charts prior to the event so everyone can see where they're sitting. As usual, there'll be two charts - one alphabetical, the other by seat number.
         Book Donations
Hari, our book sales co-ordinator, asked me to remind you that you can bring any number of wilderness & northern books as donation and drop them off on symposium Friday or Saturday. Thank you Rob Butler, Sarah Lawson, Skip Pessl, and Allan Jacobs for generously donating your books in support of WCS.
         Mapping Ground Zero
After 40+ years of travelling and learning in circumpolar world, James Raffan joined a small team of researchers gathering data to create the first comprehensive atlas of the Marshall Islands.  For 30 days and nights last spring, JR and the team travelled to some of the most remote atolls in RMI in a 15m Polynesian sailing canoe called Oceanos. Trading the known boreal biting hazards of bugs and bears for equatorial realities of swimming with sharks, this was an illuminating adventure of the first order.  "It’s quite a tale," says JR, “not your average ordinary canoe trip!"
James Raffan loves canoes and canoeing and is a longtime friend of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, service for which he just received Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal from Governor General Julie Payette. But it is storytelling that is JR’s real passion, and he’s one of the best. Over the years he has written and edited 24 books on topics ranging from canoes to biography, with the common thread running through them the connections between people and place. He has also written for film and television as well as for radio, both words and music, to evoke the themes and stories of the people and places he has visited. He is a frequent public presenter, speaking about risk, adventure, environment, reconciliation, education and the simple joys of self-imposed suffering.
          "I hold Dehcho in My Heart"
Story by Kristen Tanche & Lesley Johnson

In the summer of 2017, a group of Indigenous students and elders embarked on a six-week paddle trip down Canada’s longest river, in an effort to reconnect with Dene land and culture. The Mackenzie River is known as the Dehcho in the Dene language and it spans over 1,738 kilometres of the Northwest Territories, stretching from Great Slave Lake to the Arctic ocean. The film “I Hold the Dehcho in My Heart”, documents youth leader Kristen Tanche’s journey learning to paddle the waters of her ancestors in the Dehcho region, while learning language, cultural and wilderness skills from Dene elders. Join Kristen and filmmaker Lesley Johnson recount their experiences being immersed in Dene culture, paddling one of the world’s longest and most beautiful rivers. The 42 day trip spanned 1200 km, beginning in Fort Providence (Zhahti Koe), passing by the community of Jean Marie River (Tthets'ek'ehdeli), where the students immersed in a five-day Dene Zhatie language camp, and continued on to Fort Good Hope (Radilih Koe), just shy of the Arctic circle.
Photo by Pat Kane
Lesley Johnson is a filmmaker and programmer based in Toronto and Yellowknife, whose work relates stories of personal transformation to environment and culture. She is fortunate to have worked in remote access communities and wilderness locations in the Northwest Territories, such as the Dehcho (Mackenzie River) and along the Arctic coastline. Lesley has a background in biological sciences and holds an MFA in Film Production from York University.  Her film “I Hold the Dehcho in My Heart / Sedze Tah Dehcho E’toh” won the NWT Professional Media Association’s award for Best Documentary, and is available on CBC Gem. Her shorts “Princess Jack” and “Charlie” have won awards and screened at numerous festivals. As a producer, her projects have appeared on CBC, APTN, and been selected for TIFF and Canada’s Top Ten. Her latest film, “Revolution Moosehide”, will be released in winter 2020, and she is currently producing the feature length documentary “She Sings in Shadows” in Afghanistan.
Photo by Amos Scott
Kristen Tanche is a member of Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation. Raised across the North, Tanche returned to her mother’s home community of Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ (Fort Simpson), NT to reconnect with her family, community, and Dene culture ten years ago. She continues to live in the community, where she is employed by Dehcho First Nations as the Regional on the Land Coordinator. In that capacity, she plans, coordinates, and delivers regional land-based programs guided by the values of the Dehcho First Nations and Dehcho K’éhodi Stewardship Program Principals. In 2017 Tanche participated in the Dechinta Dehcho River Semester which brought a group of 20 by canoe from Fort Providence, NT to Fort Good Hope, NT down the Dehcho (Mackenzie River). Since that time Tanche has been able to do annual Dehcho trips either though her employer or on her own with her family. 
Please make sure your ticket(s) is paid for well in advance. I'd rather we don't mess with the money on the Symposium weekend. E-transfer payment to is the preferred method, cheque also works.
          Paddlers Gathering, Vermont
This is my favourite indoor gathering place, a home-away-from-home at least twice a year. The 28th Wilderness Paddlers Gathering will take place 13-15 March, 2020. Feel like a road trip? You won't be disappointed! Register here.
Check out past emails here. Maybe I already answered your question? If not, call me 416-433-8413
Send your '21 WCS Speaker recommendations to
Thank you! 
Aleks & WCS Team
Copyright © 2020 Wilderness and Canoe Symposium, All rights reserved.

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