Video - Portraits 150 - Yann


Transcript of Portraits 150 - Yann

[Canada 150 logo]

[Text on screen: Portraits 150]

[A man walks in the snowy backyard of a suburban house.]

Yann Martel: "I was born in Spain of two Canadian parents who were studying in Spain. Very quickly we moved to Portugal then to Alaska."

[He skims through a book with yellowed pages.]

Yann Martel: "So throughout my life my parents have moved around. I always knew I was Canadian, that’s the only nationality I have."

[Text on screen: Yann Martel, writer, Canada 150 ambassador]

[Yann poses in an armchair, smiling, a pair of glasses resting on his nose.]

Yann Martel: "My name is Yann Martel and I'm a writer. Once I was in India, and I was in a little place where you make international phone calls and I was sitting there, and there was a couple next to me and they couldn’t be more Indian — they looked Indian, they were dressed like Indians, and at one point the man leaned over and said, “Excuse me sir, where are you from?” and I said, “Oh I’m from Canada.” And they both said, “Ah! So are we!”"

[Standing by a window, Yann flips through a book.]

Yann Martel: "They were Canadians, you know, who lived in Scarborough; despite our radical difference in appearance, in dress, we were suddenly Canadian, so what I love about being Canadian is in a sense it’s a state of mind."

[He moves closer to the window and contemplates the snowy scenery.]

Yann Martel: "Life of Pi I thought of when I was in India. I was on top of a rock, you know, at Hill Station near Bombay."

[A box decorated with printed tigers sits on the windowsill.]

Yann Martel: "I thought of that story, of, you know, a boy in a lifeboat and that was a metaphor on the human condition. Life of Pi is about one set of facts but different stories mapping over those facts."

[He taps away at his computer.]

Yann Martel: "So all the stories I tell, despite being set in these foreign locales, to me are very much Canadian — if anything might be more Canadian."

[He walks a small black bichon in the quiet streets of his neighbourhood.]

Yann Martel: "So whether they’re set in India or in Western Turkey, to me they’re always a dialogue about identity and a sense of being, and that’s an ongoing process."

[The Saskatchewan River runs along the city of Saskatoon, covered in snow under a grey sky.]

[Canada 150 logo]

[Text on screen:, #canada150]

Narrator: "A message from the Government of Canada."

[Canada wordmark]

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