Canada tourism employes slam poets

The Canadian Tourism Commission has employed contemporary slam poets to get its message across to travellers and the tourism industry.  Full statement

How do you know when you’ve hit on a great idea? When someone takes it, runs with it, makes it his own. That’s what happened when the Canadian tourism board told Canuck slam poets Shane Koyczan and Ivan Bielinski about Canada’s new brand identity. A brief phone chat, emailed examples of the new look and feel - that was it.

These award-winning artists took our concept and turned it into two gut-punch, rap love poems to Canada, first try. They’re called “We are more” and “La Première Fois.”

We get choked up every time we hear ‘em (and we’ve heard them a lot). In fact, we liked the rhyme masters’ jams so much, we hired Koyczan and Bielinski to perform their pieces for the Canadian public for the first time together at our nation’s capital Canada Day fest.

No, it’s not the usual press conference or media kit. But that’s what our brand is about - celebrating originality, following imagination, showing the world our Canada. We hope Koyczan’s “We are More” and Bielinski’s “La Première Fois” will give Canadian travel cachet, and spread the word about our mind-blowing wonders and hidden gems. The message is unique and we think it’ll encourage Canadians to go deeper and experience their native land.


“We want Canadians to feel free to explore, be themselves and experience our country in their own, personal way,” says Greg Klassen, CTC vice president of Marketing.

Koyczan, one of the world’s premier spoken-word artists, is a Canadian Spoken Word Olympics and CBC Poetry Face-Off winner. Canada’s Globe and Mail and The Guardian (UK) hailed his 2005 book of poems, Visiting Hours, as a “Book of the Year.” Bielinski, known as “Ivy” in his work as part of the duo Ivy et Reggie, is a seasoned performer with two albums, Feux-Fuyants sur fond d’amour noir (1999) and Ivy et Reggie (2002), and a book, A Gardener of Words, to his credit. Bielinski dived into the world of rhyme and verse in 2004 and has emerged as a leader of Montréal’s slam poetry scene.

“There are a lot of images of what Canada is and should be,” Klassen says. “Many of them - the great outdoors, our fascination with hockey, the weather - undeniably make up part of the Canadian experience. But there’s so much more to who we are as a country. This art form is a great way to showcase our shared identity as Canadians.”

That’s the story behind the poem. Read and download the poems on our website, . Or tell us what inspires you about Canada for a chance to win an explore-the-country-by-rail trip. The message: inspiring Canadians to get out and discover Canada, .

For the story behind the CTC’s Brand Canada strategy, visit . Have fun!