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Wapusk National Park of Canada

Music and Film - Inspired by Wapusk

Karyne Jolicoeur-Funk
Interpretation Coordinator, Wapusk National Park
Kathleen’s guitar and notebook; as she takes a break from writing a song in the park Kathleen’s guitar and notebook; as she takes a break from writing a song in the park
© National Parks Project / Geoff Morrison











Last summer, The National Parks Project brought one great film maker and three outstanding Canadian musicians to Wapusk National Park (NP) to create something special. This collaborative project between Parks Canada, FilmCAN and Primitive Entertainment traveled to 13 national parks across Canada from May to October, 2010. Film makers and musicians were sent to each park to create a short film and soundtrack to reflect these magical places and their experiences in them. All the while, Discovery World HD followed the artists, capturing them at work and at play. Wapusk NP was privileged to welcome the Academy Awardnominated director, Hubert Davis, and the renowned musicians Kathleen Edwards, Matt Mays and Sam Roberts along with an extremely talented support crew who helped to make the project a reality.

The first to arrive in Churchill, Geoff Morrison (Producer), Barry Bichard (Assistant Director) and Paul Aucoin (Music Engineer) were greeted by 80 km winds blasting off the Hudson Bay. The rest of the group arrived the next day with better weather, eager to begin their adventure. An orientation by Parks Canada’s Melissa Gibbons gave them a sneak peek of what to expect. A short video, taken only a few weeks earlier from a remote sensor camera, revealed a polar bear being harassed by a swarm of mosquitoes at the very site where they would be staying. Was this a premonition of the trip ahead?

From left to right: TV Director, Mike Downie; TV soundman, Chris Miller; Music Engineer, Paul Aucoin; TV Director of Photography, Mark Ellam and artists; Matt Mays, Sam Roberts and Kathleen Edwards From left to right: TV Director, Mike Downie; TV soundman, Chris Miller; Music Engineer, Paul Aucoin; TV Director of Photography, Mark Ellam and artists; Matt Mays, Sam Roberts and Kathleen Edwards
© National Parks Project / Geoff Morrison

Fortunately for them, Wapusk NP was kind. For five days, the sun shone, the breeze kept the insects at bay and the Northern lights danced. What luck! With such a large group, fifteen in total, work teams often split up to capitalize on their short time in the park. Hubert Davis (Director) and Chris Romeike (Film cameraperson) often took time to appreciate the subtleties of one area, capitalizing on changing light over the vast tundra landscape to create their images on film. The musicians spent hours hiking and exploring, often accompanied by the riffs from Matt’s electric guitar as he strolled the tundra “plugged-in”. Sam was continually searching to spot another fossil along the riverbank and Kathleen enjoyed the feel of the tundra as she blissfully rolled in peat hummocks.

After getting acquainted with the landscape, the creative processes truly began. Whether it was the three musicians playing a lonely concert on the banks of a remote river, or a film maker discovering canoeing for the first time, the crew from Discovery HD was there to capture every moment.

The longest and most ambitious day brought us all to the edge of Hudson Bay… or almost. The artists, along with myself and Mark Ellam (TV cameraperson), enjoyed a canoe trip down the Broad River toward the coast, while the rest of the group hiked the fens and the beach ridges heading to the same destination. A few kilometres’ short of the coast, we encountered a spectacular sight - a mother polar bear and her two cubs. We moved off to give her, and us, some space and finally joined the hikers on the bank of the river. We felt privileged to have seen the bears and witnessed their beauty and agility. It was only after really seeing a polar bear that the group understood the necessity of having a fenced area to sleep in at night and staff working as bear monitors constantly scanning the landscape.

Film director, Hubert Davis Film director, Hubert Davis
© National Parks Project / Geoff Morrison

After five days, and plenty of video footage, sound and music recordings, the crew flew out of Wapusk NP and finished off their trip in true Churchill fashion - with a bonfire by the Churchill River and one last spectacular show of northern lights.

Thank you to the participants and everyone who helped to make this project a success!

National Parks Project Group for Wapusk National Park:

  • Geoff Morrison – Producer
  • Barry Bichard – Assistant Director
  • Hubert Davis – Film Director
  • Chris Romeike – Film cameraperson
  • Sam Roberts – Artist/Musician
  • Matt Mays – Artist/Musician
  • Kathleen Edwards – Artist/Musician
  • Paul Aucoin – Music recordist
  • Michael Downie - TV director
  • Mark Ellam – TV cameraperson
  • Chris Miller – TV soundperson
  • Simon Pottek – Camp cook, Northern Soul Wilderness Adventures
  • Rodney Redhead – Parks Canada, Resource Conservation Technician
  • Chantal Thompson – Parks Canada, Young Canada Works student
  • Karyne Jolicoeur-Funk – Parks Canada, Interpreter

The National Parks Project has resulted in a collection of 13 films that showcase Canada’s natural diversity and the breadth of its artistic talent. The films can be viewed online at: 

Discovery World HD started broadcasting this series on television in March, 2011. To see a previously aired episode, check their website at: 

And beginning May 3rd, you’ll be able to download Hubert’s Wapusk film on iTunes, as well as the full-length NPP soundtrack:  

If you’d like to view the film made in Wapusk NP by the National Parks Project, you can request a screening at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre in Churchill.