By Tim Van Horn
At age five, I had already taken my first photograph and had decided I wanted to be a ‘cameraman’. It was as though I always knew what I wanted to be. Growing up and traveling around Canada with my family in the Canadian Air Force, I developed a sense of duty to the people and fell in love with cultural experiences in my ever-changing surroundings. Having William Cornelius Van Horne, the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway as my great-great-great uncle gave me my entrepreneurial, think-big spirit -with a Canadian twist.
This gave rise to my vision for the Canadian Mosaic Project. An opportunity to photograph Canadians from diverse backgrounds from all across the country and create a large mosaic from the individual portraits.
The project began on October 1, 2008 in Red Deer Alberta. Since then, thousands have been photographed and several mosaics have already been created. Upon completion of the Canadian Mosaic Project for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, a total of 54,000 portraits (or .150% of the population) will have been taken. (The collective will and visual story is woven together into an inspirational, nationwide touring mobile interactive pavilion. A medley of portraits, text, music, flags and monitors give the ‘To Canada With Love’ pavilion flare, movement and a fun, festival-like atmosphere. Over its 150 inspirational stops, the ‘To Canada With Love’ pavilion will busily beam out the message of who we are, connecting the soul of the nation in a contemporary love story celebrating a new chapter in Canada’s history).
The mission is to spark a wave of pride across Canada. By stopping in communities across the country, thousands of people will experience the Canadian story like never before! These 54,000 portraits will be the largest visual anthropological cultural study of Canadians ever undertaken. Online, an interactive mosaic is all about us, and shines a light on our unique cultural identity.
Over the past eight years while working on the Canadian Mosaic Project, it has become clear that my calling is to be this adventurous, inspirational role model. I see myself as a creative foot soldier on his tour-of-duty to unite and present Canadians with an all-encompassing authentic portrayal of who we are. It is the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve borne witness, to that give me my passion and undying conviction to portray Canada from the position of a humanitarian. I see my goal not to promote the notion of nationalism, but rather to create critical dialogue around the concept of diving deep into one’s soul to discover one’s calling or purpose. Canada is my home, these are my people, and it’s my moral obligation to share and celebrate the story of our collective humanity with Canadians of all ages.
Canada’s 150th birthday is a perfect opportunity to unite and redefine our one-of-a-kind national identity with a colourful depiction of the wonders of life, and living in a liberal, openly-accepting society, which is the envy of the world over.