As part of MarchFifteen’s Canada 150 celebration, we are interviewing prominent people in various fields to gain their thoughts and insights to the question, “What does it mean to be a Canadian?” Maria Milanetti was pleased to interview Sherry Prenevost, renowned social documentary and travel photographer, as part of this initiative.
MarchFifteen has enjoyed a relationship with Sherry and her work for several years. As an artist contributing to the world of art, she is wonderful at transmitting both the character and depth of the people represented in her art, as well as the real and unreal elements of the natural environments. Over the last several years Sherry has displayed an entire show with us for three art exhibitions.
We consider you a famous Canadian – tell us a little bit about what it means to you to be a Canadian?”
Sherry: Thank you Maria, and MarchFifteen, for honouring me this way. I feel humbled. I do know that in my photography I feel it’s important to show the way we live in the world, and how we find value in how we are different. I think as Canadians our foundation is built on helping others and I take pride in the fact that we are the most peaceful of countries. As Canadians we are leaders in demonstrating our focus on the human and environmental issues. Canada also has firmly entrenched protections of free speech, and the way we live shows our values of dignity and respect.
What makes you proud to be Canadian?
Sherry: I was born here, and I feel there are so many things to be proud of; and I become so much more aware of this pride, and the reasons for it, when I travel. Canada really is one of the most amazing places on Earth. We have so many Provincial and National Parks, and for me it’s awe inspiring how many complex ecosystems we have. It’s quite remarkable how many untouched, wide open spaces we have, our beautiful landscapes, and the whole country is so wildly alive. I am also proud of so much more…
- I’m proud that Canada is known worldwide as a defender of human rights, and that we have one of the longest non-militarized borders on the planet.
- Our culture reflects the richness of multiculturalism. I am proud of our values of tolerance and inclusion and the way we work towards addressing our challenges as a nation. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a source of global inspiration.
- We are rated as one of the most educated and happiest countries, and our trademark warmth, respect, openness to other cultures is known worldwide.
- I feel Canada has so many heroes to be proud of, like Terry Fox.
- And, our healthcare system is enviable – it shows how we care for each other.
How do you feel like you are acting as a proud Canadian in the work you do, or as a Canadian Leader?
Sherry: My work takes me to the far north and different countries. I apply myself to the areas of advocacy, community capacity building, policy development, environment and the arts, in local national and international settings.
My thought process about becoming, and being a Canadian leader that has dignity and respect is to take the steps towards it, and to continue. When I think of myself as a leader, I look towards a leader’s actions and the way they participate in the world around them. My work is joyful at times, and also at times it can hurt the depths of my soul. This second experience of adversity strengthens and helps me grow and learn as a human being.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Sherry: Canada 150 is a time for communities to come together and celebrate everything that is Canadian! It is an opportunity to learn about our history, a time to reflect on our values. It’s an occasion to see and admire our country’s influence on the world, to look forward and listen to the values of our youth – the legacy that is Canada.
So many different forces are chipping away at our collective humanity, and I truly believe that the presence of Canada brings hope to the world. My grandchildren will have a brilliant future, because of the way we are, because they are Canadian, and I want to preserve that, make sure this way of being remains in the world.
And finally, I am grateful to the soldiers who have given so incredibly to our rights and safety, and to the First Nations’ people who have shared their land and traditions.
Thank you too, to MarchFifteen, for the way you live and conduct yourselves in business.