ward papastew/Hawrelak Park in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan/Edmonton, Canada
Leslie Sharpe, Chenoa Anderson, Ian Crutchley
Papastew Geese Call
Live stream from ward Papastew, Hawrelak Park in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan/Edmonton, Canada.
Leslie Sharpe, Chenoa Anderson, Ian Crutchley and friends will join in with sonic responses following the dawn chorus of migratory birds that have returned to the lake in Hawrelak Park along with local woodpeckers and song birds.
Civic twilight to 5.45AM MDT: Niska The stream will start with sounds of local and migratory birds that call the location home, especially Canadian Geese.
5.45AM MDT: Papastew Geese Call [Artist's Responses]
Artist's responses will start around 5.45 am in civic twilight and go on till shortly after sunrise, approximately 20-30 minutes.
After the initial stream of natural and local sounds, flutist Chenoa Anderson, composer Ian Crutchley, and artist Leslie Sharpe will respond to the geese and other wildlife with sonic responses, including ocarina (Anderson), natural and mechanical soundmakers (Crutchley), and looping recorded questions that have gone through voice processing (Sharpe). Sounds will be responsive to the live stream, whereas the questions are prerecorded and processed, based on visits to the area, and on research on birds, migration, and the impacts of climate and habitat change on wildlife, particularly during the pandemic. We are also expecting the birds to continue to contribute their own audio as we visit them in this space.
For this year’s Dawn Chorus, we will be streaming from the east side of the lake in this urban park on Treaty 6 Territory in Amiskwaciy Wâskahikan (Edmonton), Alberta. The 5-hectare, human-constructed lake is a gathering place for many migratory birds, and is the summer home of a community of Canadian Geese. The east side of the lake edges forest paths that look over kisiskâciwanisîpiy, the North Saskatchewan River. Kisiskâciwanisîpiy starts from the Saskatchewan glacier in the Rocky mountains and joins other tributaries until it finally flows into Asiujarjuaq (Hudson Bay). Kisiskâciwanisîpiy has long been a meeting place and major route for the numerous indigenous peoples who have lived here for thousands of years.
Birds also have migrated and settled here for thousands of years. Urban and colonial development and anthropogenic climate change have forced many migratory birds to change their routes and breeding sites, and many Canada Geese now return yearly to urban sites such as this one. Frequently city-dwellers see the geese and other urban wildlife here (such as coyotes, beaver, and porcupines) as an encroachment and problem despite constant urban development that encroaches upon natural habitats for these and other species. Cities address the geese in their rhetoric as a ‘problem’ rather than challenge city- and suburb- dwellers to accept that they might be the problem, expecting wildlife to change its ways or places of being or be moved.
During times of lockdown in the pandemic, sounds of birds and other wildlife were reminders of who we share our spaces with, of the lives and species humans often take for granted. After spending many months inside here in northern Alberta, the sound of the returning Canadian Geese was like the ringing of a thousand bells, waking us up from a cruel year of physical, political and emotional turmoil. The birds remind us that life will go on, even without us, that borders formed by our political minds are not theirs. If we watch and listen, we can see the geese skating on the wet ice of the lake, ducks and geese plunging into the open waters, follow a muskrat foraging along the lakeshore and hear woodpeckers rattling the sides of dead trees. If we stay into the night we can hear the owls and coyotes howl.
After the birds wake up for this dawn chorus day, we will respond to the birds, with our sounds, and questions – what did it look like from up there? are we any different? How can you put your head under water so long?