An 11-minute sound journey that took two years of walking around Squamish to create is being recognized for its intricate Aboriginal storytelling.
Squamish's Crystal Favel recently won a 2018 ImagiNATIVE Film and Media Arts award for best audio work for her "Trans Mountain pipeline, B.C. wolf cull and dog sled massacre" soundscape.
Favel, who is Cree and Metis, created 90 per cent of the unique piece with audio recordings of everything from construction outside her front door to raven and robin songs captured in Paradise Valley.
The goal of the piece was to, "create a story based on current affairs using the least amount of words possible mostly featuring the voices of mother earth," Favel said. "Listen twice as much as we speak; the animals, birds, and earth have something to say."
In the recording, she looks at the Trans Mountain Pipeline, B.C. wolf cull and post Whistler-Olympics dog sled "massacre" from an Indigenous point of view, she said.
"This audio story exposes the predatory destruction of Mother Earth if the Trans Mountain Pipeline is extended. This story is also a remembrance of the B.C. wolf cull and dogsled massacre caused by careless modern predators."
While it opens with beautiful birdsong, the recording is not always easy to hear due to the topics it tackles. The music becomes ominous and the sound of gunfire rings out.
Favel said she picked the topics of the pipeline expansion, wolf cull, and dog killings because she felt like there was previously something missing in the coverage of these issues,
"I felt like they were stories that weren't given enough attention," she said. "They needed an Aboriginal perspective, as well as, I felt like there needed to be closure in some way."
The soundscape modernizes and expands on the Indigenous oral tradition.
Favel, who identifies herself as Canada’s first Indigenous female electronica Pro DJ and music producer, said that she envisions people listening in a classroom setting, learning from what they hear. Listening is so different than seeing, she said.
"We are always looking with our eyes, but we aren't necessarily hearing.... There are tones to messages."
When the recording moves from sound of the robins to the ravens, for example, the ravens sound like they are giving an 'uh oh,' warning, according to Favel.
"It is one thing to listen to a bird call, it is another thing to listen to a bird in their environment and how to apply [that] to the issues that I want to bring attention to," she said.
When she first heard in October that she had won the ImagiNATIVE Film and Media Arts award, she burst into tears, Favel recalled.
"I am happy to not only have won the award, but I am happy people listened — they heard what the animals and the Earth are saying, and that is the most important thing.