________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 16. . . .December 21, 2012


Nature's Invitation.

Brandy Yanchyk (Producer, Director & Writer).
Edmonton, AB: Brandy Y Productions(brandy@brandyyproductions.com), 2012.
DVD, 47 min., $20.00 home use; $30 non-profits organizations & resettlement agencies; $80.00 schools & libraries; $250.00 universities (includes public performance rights for classroom use only). Note: To all prices, taxes plus shipping & handling costs must be added.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Stephanie Yamniuk.

*** /4



"[Camping is] part of our life in Canada, it's part of our identity. . . There are people who go up the mountain in my country [Afghanistan], the shepherds . . . I've never seen mountain climbing with ropes" (new immigrant from Afghanistan).

"As a new Canadian, I want to know my country" (new immigrant from Eritrea).


The focus on all people's connection to nature is done in a powerful way in Nature's Invitation which encourages viewers to consider their own connections to nature and to refugee families. The film shows refugee families camping and working with National Park programs to encourage newcomers to Canada to embrace the beauty of nature in their new home. They learn how to set up a tent, prepare food for cooking, and what to do when their camping experiences is interrupted by rain. Refugee families, both teens and adults, talk about what it means to them to spend time in nature. They discuss the many ways that being in nature in Canada impacts their identity as new Canadians and what new experiences mean for their adaptation to a new home for their families. Both adults and children are seen preparing food, setting up their tents, running around at their campsites and having fun together.

      One of the most touching parts of the video is when a teenage girl talks about her life in her home country and all that, being refugees, she and her mother lost: innocence, family members, memories, and a place to call home. Coming to Canada was for them a new beginning, but they are very lonely. The teen being interviewed wasn't sure if she would find other people to connect with in her new home of Canada, but the hopefulness comes through very loud and clear. The viewer can see how, through the camping program in Edmonton, AB, she does meet new people. The close connection between her and her mother is very touching, and viewers can see how this shared experiences has created an even stronger bond between the two women.

     Though the film is perhaps too long to keep the attention of most high school students, it could find be used in biology, sustainable development or sociology classes or with new immigrant students in high school. Nature's Invitation seems to have been created for immigrant service providers more than high school students, but I would use this in my teacher education courses at the university level as a way to introduce the resilience of newcomers to Canada and how important their adaptation is to their new home.

Recommended with reservations.

Stephanie Yamniuk is an instructor in the Faculties of Education and Human Ecology at the University of Manitoba, and is completing her PhD on the resilience and lived experiences of refugee students and their families in Canadian schools.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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