FORT NELSON, B.C. – Submissions for the 2021 Wild Words North Art Exhibit will draw inspiration from a passage of writing by Fort Nelson artist Ryan Dickie.

Dickie’s experience in the Muskwa-Kechika has gone from being a unique backdrop for his photography to a journey understanding where he comes from, his history as an Indigenous person, and his ancestors’ historical presence out in the land.

His interest in the region started as a kid fishing and camping in places like Muncho Lake, Toad River, and Tetsa River. It was Wayne Sawchuk’s first book that ignited Dickie’s passion for exploring the Muskwa-Kechika.

“All the photos he had within that book made me realize what was actually out there just off the highway,” says Dickie.

It was years before he could join Sawchuk in those remote areas, hundreds of kilometres from the highway.

“For me, it’s just incredible we have access to a place that really hasn’t changed since my ancestors and people have utilized the area and travelled through it from place to place; it’s pretty neat.”

Now, Dickie has developed a reputation as a storyteller. Even with his photos and stories of the vast landscape, he says it’s hard to put into words.

“We try our best, whether it’s through artwork, photography, or storytelling, to convey the feelings or the emotions. Until you can experience it for yourself and dive right into it, it’s just so hard to do it justice. It’s something that I’ve been really fortunate to experience in my lifetime, but it’s super hard to convey that through a photo until you experience it.”

Dickie has developed a deeper understanding of the region, its history, and cultural significance. For him, it’s important to share the story, not just for himself or his kids, but for future generations to be able to appreciate.

“Just to know that we’re still this super wild, rugged, primitive place with an abundance of wildlife and that it’s still be used the way it always has been. ”

Through his writing submission, Dickie wants to relate the concept of his experience to the artists.

“It’s a place that I always dream about. I’ve seen so many of these places in my dreams, and to finally be able to experience them myself and feel my ancestors and Indigenous people from this area utilize this area, you do get a sense that they were there, and you’re looking for signs that they were there. Something along those lines that Indigenous perspective for the artists to play out in their heads and come up with something pretty neat.”

The Wild Words North art exhibit will take submissions from April 1st to August 31st, and the exhibit will go on display at the Dawson Creek art gallery from September to October.

All artwork will be included in the virtual exhibit gallery online, and the Dawson Creek Art Gallery will choose submissions to be included in the physical exhibit.