In 2019 the Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts celebrated its fifteenth anniversary by recognizing and honouring the contributions of the literary arts to our community.
2020 event details will be announced in April, 2020.
Each year for the Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts, students from one of the local schools to participate in a writing mentorship program in which they meet and interview all of the honourees. This year, we had four students from Canmore Collegiate High School write the bios.
In a constant state of creative thinking
By Audrey Lefort
“I love it here. I knew right away that this was my home.”
Creative, adventurous, and a cat person, Jocey Asnong is on an inspiring and successful literary journey. Her passion for the art of writing and illustration has only expanded throughout the years and Jocey is now able to express her talent with the guidance of the publishing company Rocky Mountain Books. This author is discovering her unique voice through children’s literature and illustration, finding her inspiration from her travels around the world. Nevertheless, the wild adventures in Nepal will never prevent Jocey’s return to her rightful place in the Bow Valley.
“Right now is a really exciting time to be in this field. Your work doesn’t have to be pretty or rigid anymore. You can have a lot of fun, back and forth, with your audience.”
Working in her so-called “art cave,” Jocey is in a constant state of creative thinking where she adapts her writing for multiple audiences. Varying from grandparents to toddlers, Jocey must be thoughtful to create a captivating experience for all her readers.
“There’s a theory that one of the cats is me.”
Creator of Nuptse and Lhotse, this astonishing writer has had the opportunity to meet her most supporting audience: children who praise these famous cats. In fact, various requests from young readers concerning original concepts are often included in her writing. This is something that Jocey greatly appreciates about her career and takes with pride.
“I have fans, whom I love, and then I have super fans who are devoted to the books. That, to me, is success.”
Also known for the ABCs and 123s series, Jocey has built a name for herself in the Bow Valley. For Jocey, finding inspiration is a simple task of looking around.
“I’m a highly sensitive person, so I’m always feeding off my surroundings: textures, wallpapers, catalogues, books, hiking.”
Thankful for her amazing gift of observation and imagination, Jocey has only reached the surface of her writing journey. Collaborating with Rocky Mountain Books, this talented artist has several approaching projects coming to life. Her young audience and readers will be excited to learn that she will be publishing two books each year for four years; a combination of Nuptse and Lhotse, the baby born books and Atlantic Canada.
“This is the place I’ve always needed to live. Not just for the mountains, but for the huge amount of support in this community for all of the artists in general.”
Audrey Lefort is a CCHS student in grade eleven. She enjoys spending her time in nature or scavenging books stores to expand her library.
An inspired individual with a commitment to turn scientific research into action
By Sophie MacLeod
Robert William Sandford, known locally as Bob Sandford, is a passionate and compelling writer. He is, however, far more than that. With numerous diverse endeavours in regards to water, glaciers, wildlife, and the history of the Rocky Mountains, Bob is a well-traveled and inspired individual with a commitment to turn scientific research into action. Currently, his focus lies on issues pertaining to water.
Bob came to Canmore 49 years ago with the intention of working for a few months as a seasonal park ranger in Banff. “We know lots of people like that, who come for a few months and then stay forever” he told me. Here he found himself captivated by the landscape, realizing that he had never felt such a profound sense of place. He also found his life changed by an accident at the Columbia Icefield, in which he fell into a glacier.
“Accidents sometimes have quite an impact on you, expected or not.”
The site of this accident became a major part of his life and is a place he finds himself returning to, time and time again.
Bob is an incredibly inspired and inspiring individual, something that is reflected in all of his works. He owes his inspiration to a handful of specific sources, many of which are local to the Bow Valley. Firstly, the landscapes in which we live. He spent nearly forty years working in the backcountry, drawing immense inspiration from it. He also found himself heavily influenced by other naturalistic writers. He was astounded by their ability to take scientific discoveries and present them in a way that was captivating and engaging, something he now tries to do as well. He drew immense inspiration from those who were writing passionately about things he also cared about.
“I owe a great deal to others who have written about this and have had the courage to make strong statements about protecting these places”
Bob owes his final inspiration to his publisher, Don Gourmund, who has published a great deal of his books.
Bob is constantly analyzing the human experience and, when he comes upon concerns, wastes no time turning his thoughts into action.
“I was always very concerned about this undeclared civil war that we have in our society between those that believe that the world belongs to them and those that believe that they belong to the world”
Bob seamlessly articulates what many of us strive to understand in a beautiful and relatable way.
When asked what he is most known for, Bob claims it to be “either bad behaviour or being my kids’ dad.”
Sophie MacLeod is a Grade 10 student at Canmore Collegiate High School. She enjoys highland dance, learning, reading and of course, writing.
Making sense and order of the world through writing
By Zoe Fleger
Stephen Legault is one of the most profound and fascinating people one could encounter. He is the author of numerous successful novels which include The End of the Line, Third Riel Conspiracy, The Slickrock Paradox and Black Sun Descending. Stephen is also a full-time conservation activist, writer, and photographer.
Stephen moved to the Bow Valley in 1992. He lived in Lake Louise at first, moving next to Harvey Heights in 2006 and finally to Canmore in 2001. Although he has come and gone since then, he loves the mountains and the community and knows he will always come back. “I can’t promise that I’d never leave again but I always know that I will come back. It’s home” he said.
“I’ve been writing for a very long time, pretty much since I can remember” Stephen recalled. “I started writing seriously when I was in high school. Seriously meaning that I started thinking about the notion that I could write something that would be useful or meaningful to other people. It was also a way to keep my teenage life in order and keep my head from exploding.” When he was a teen, in fact, Stephen used to sneak out of his house at night to find inspiration and write. When asked what his relationship was with writing his response was that “It’s not a result of choice. It’s a result of necessity.” Furthermore, “the way I order the world around me and the way I create the structure for a lot of convoluted and disjointed ideas is by writing them down, again and again, and again and again, until they start to make sense.”
Stephen believes what he is most known for, besides his writing, would either be “for being a royal pain in the ass” or for his work in conservation in Alberta and North America for the last 30 years. Stephen feels writing to be a community effort between writers, editors, readers, and the literal community within which it exists. Stephen’s passion for the arts and the environment are clear in all that he does.
Zoe Fleger is a grade 9 student at CCHS and considers J.K. Rowling and Stephen King among her favourite authors.
Caring for the health of the world around him
By Jayden Amos
Karsten Heuer is a Canadian biologist and author who has been in Canmore for more than thirty-two years. Growing up, he had an amazing love for and connection with wildlife. His parents were from Germany, and Karsten was born shortly after they immigrated to Canada. They constantly went on trips outdoors – this was a spark in his lifetime love for the wilderness. This passion led him into doing an abundance of volunteer work in university, and from there he became a biologist. Karsten has a close relationship with Farley Mowat due to his book Finding Farley. “Farley was always a mentor and hero to me.” Karsten said.
While he was in the process of writing the book he had emailed Farley with a copy of his book in hopes he would read it. To his surprise, Farley did in fact read it, and it resulted in a personal invitation for Karsten to meet Farley himself. Karsten is currently working multiple projects: he is working on Yellowstone to Yukon (y2y), a conservation initiative in which the goal is to conserve an abundant amount of land for wildlife.
“My biggest influences are wild animals. They continually impress me with their ability to survive, explore, thrive and always be graceful despite tremendous challenges.” He is also heavily involved in the Banff National Park bison reintroduction project; a project that is an attempt to analyze the Bison within five years to make a decision if the Bison are able to stay in today’s environment. It is also shocking to find out that during this project, past species have been brought back too, including cowbirds. Karsten has also made a children’s book, with the belief that it will help raise awareness for wildlife.
“They [children] are the next generation to inherit the planet, so they must know.” Karsten explained.
Karsten works closely with multiple indigenous groups, including Siksika, Stoney Nakoda, Metis, and many more within treaty six and treaty seven. Karsten is truly a great selfless man who cares only for the health of the world around him. He strives to be an influence and a person that can make a difference.
Jayden Amos is grade 12 student from Canmore Collegiate high school who has a passion for writing.
Lamphouse Endowment for the Arts: Emerging Artist Bursary
The Emerging Artist Bursary is given annually to a Canmore resident who is 17-25 years of age, identifies as an emerging artist and seeks to further his/her/their career by pursuing further education in a chosen practice. The bursary award is up to $3000. Applications are now closed for 2019.
Videos from Previous Spotlights
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