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Community Feature Matt Jacques, 2020 in Review

December 1, 2020
Stew Coles
Deer standing in a dense forest

For most of us, 2020 has certainly been one to remember… and one we wish we could forget.

To me, this has also felt like both the longest and shortest year ever. I recall pre-covid life like it was yesterday, and yearn to get back there as soon as possible. Yet at the same time, it feels like this year has been an endurance and stress test for the ages.

With the pandemic’s omnipresence in our minds and in the media, there’s a danger that other important issues can easily fall off the radar. Despite a near global halt to air travel and overall reduction of energy consumption, CO2 and other GHGs continue to rise to new records and global biodiversity loss continues at an astounding rate.

But this crisis has created opportunity as well. In a rather roundabout way, 2020 has provided a chance to hit pause and re-centre our connection to the natural world around us. It didn’t take long for some to connect the dots between the pandemic and our fractured relationship with nature.

In July, I was inspired to read CPAWS’ report “Healthy Nature, Healthy People” which calls on our Government to place the natural world at the centre of pandemic recovery efforts. Similar themes have emerged from several organizations, with the OECD recently advocating for “integrating biodiversity considerations into the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”

A similar mix of challenge and optimism has emerged on a personal level too. One the one hand, it feels like I’ve accomplished so little of what I’d originally hoped for this year, and much of my business as a commercial photographer has been dramatically impacted. Nonetheless, I did still manage to develop relationships with new clients, explore several areas of this province that were new to me, and through my podcast (Battlefords Untapped) I have managed to grow more connected to my community despite physical restrictions.

Through the change and chaos, I’m grateful for the little things have stayed the same. Last year, I was proud to develop a partnership with CPAWS-SK around my “Saskatchewan Wild” calendar, and I’m excited to say that the calendar is back for 2021. This means a lot to me, to be able to take the images I create for my own enjoyment, or for a client – and leverage those to hopefully create long-lasting positive change in our natural world. And I think it’s so neat that 15% of all sales will go toward protecting some of the very places that are depicted in the calendar.

Prince Albert National Park Area from above

I know my customers always appreciate being able to give a gift with impact, but I wanted to provide a little extra incentive to do so this time around. The kind folks at Camp Wolf Willow near Outlook, Saskatchewan, have generously sponsored this project with a stay in one of their luxurious ‘glamping’ tents. Nestled along the South Saskatchewan River, I can attest that that this unique campground (and winery!) is a nature-lover’s and birder’s paradise. I saw so many Sandhill cranes there this past fall, where they make a month-long pitstop on their great migration.

Wolf Willow Winery’s “Glamping” Tents are a nature lover’s paradise.

In addition to the luxury camping stay that will be given away, each and every calendar order is entered to win one of two crystal acrylic prints of my “Stargrazing” shot… one of my favourite wildlife encounters of this year, captured at Grasslands National Park.

“Stargrazing,” taken at Grasslands National Park

If you’d like to grab your own copy of “Saskatchewan Wild 2021”, and have a chance to win, you can click the link to purchase your calendar. And remember, 15% of all proceeds go directly to CPAWS-Saskatchewan to support their work right here in the province.

Let’s turn the page on 2020 together, and look forward to a healthier, happier and ‘wilder’ 2021!

Matt Jacques

You can find Matt’s biography here, and read an interview we did with him in 2019 about how he brings conservation and ethical values to the front and centre of his work as an artist.