Interview with a Canadian Geographic Ambassador: Jenny Wong

Get to know Jenny Wong, a visual media artist and an honoured Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. As a Canadian Geographic travel ambassador, Jenny is dedicated to sharing her experiences and fostering a love for Canada in others. Learn more about her photography work, her passion surrounding conservation and wildlife, and her travels to Newfoundland and Labrador in this exclusive interview.
Jenny Wong Canadian Geographic Ambassador

© Canadian Geographic

Jenny Wong, Canadian Geographic travel ambassador.

Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

My name is Jenny Wong. I am a visual media artist and Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RGCS) Fellow and travel ambassador. Specializing in adventure, travel, wildlife, and commercial photography, a lot of the work I do has to do with conservation and travel. You might have seen some of my work with Travel Nunavut and Destination Canada. I have a large focus on wild creatures and remote places, doing a lot of work in the Canadian Arctic.

How do you use your photography to spread awareness about climate change?

Predominately using social media. Along with my photos, I write long extensive captions, which is fun because one of the most rewarding things is seeing the comments and that people are reading them. Another other way is gathering community on social media amongst other photographers to help spread awareness about things like climate change and polar bears.

Jenny headshot

© Jenny Wong

Photographer, Jenny Wong.

Have you travelled to Newfoundland and Labrador before?

Yes! Last year I joined a Canadian Geographic Adventure with Great Canadian Trails as a travel ambassador, and we went to Newfoundland and Labrador. We toured around the west side and went to Gros Morne National Park and hiked the Tablelands, then headed up all the way to Port au Choix, saw the Viking settlements, and then went out to this tiny little island where we got to live the lighthouse life. It was wonderful and I can’t wait to return.

Gros morne

© Jenny Wong

Gros Morne National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Newfoundland and Labrador, home to the Tablelands, a six-hundred-metre plateau that forms one of the world’s best examples of exposed mantle.

What was your favourite part of visiting Newfoundland?

Some of my favourite parts of Newfoundland are its beauty and as a photographer, there are incredible visuals everywhere you go, but, I think my absolute favourite part was the people. The people really steal your heart with their songs, stories, food, and lifestyle. Newfoundland has a culture about it and it’s so unique to Canada that I think everyone should experience it. Beyond just going there and seeing the beautiful sights, you should be popping into tiny little restaurants and meeting the locals.

I’m very excited to get the opportunity to do that again on this expedition with Adventure Canada. We will have many locals on board travelling with us and I heard there are going to be lots of songs, stories and great food, so it will be great to see more of Newfoundland this time and interact with people in a new way.

What are you most looking forward to returning to Newfoundland?

Beyond interacting with locals and meeting new people, I am looking forward to visiting different parts of Newfoundland. So many of the communities within the province are isolated. It is remote, something that I love, and I think visiting many of these little communities is going to offer a completely different taste from other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. There’s going to be such a large flavour of Newfoundland on this expedition, not just the main attractions. We have a unique opportunity to visit places that you can only get to by sea and it will be a wonderfully different experience.

Woody point

© Jenny Wong

Woody Point, Newfoundland and Labrador, a historic town with under 300 residents.

One of the most exciting parts about this expedition, which I think is super unique is that we will be travelling within Canada, this is a Canadian Geographic Adventure Canada trip, but we will be visiting France! Just twenty kilometres from the province’s southern coast lies Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an official territory of the French republic. We’ll be visiting here towards the end of our journey and to see the contrast in culture, language, and perhaps lifestyle is going to be very interesting.

How do you interact with guests on an expedition?

The great thing about small-ship expedition travel is how you can make personal connections, which is something I’m very much looking forward to. I think one of the best things is to not make it so formal and to connect with people in a way where you’re going to make some friends that will be lifelong friends – people that will follow my adventures and I want to follow theirs in the long term.

I am also very excited to share my photography and my expertise. Hopefully, guests will learn how to take some more photos and participate in conversations about climate change, conservation, culture, or whatever it is they’re passionate about, to help them find that visual voice.

Caribou Jenny

© Jenny Wong

A picture of a caribou in its natural habitat, the area abounds with wildlife on the beautiful and windswept coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador.

You are a photographer with a focus on climate action, how does that dovetail with Adventure Canada trips?

Adventure Canada has always operated in such remote and vast places that I think there are going to be plenty of people that I’ll have a lot to chat about on board in regards to what they’ve seen and what they’ve witnessed in the years they’ve been on the ship, so, I’m super excited about that.

But I think as any operator that has operated in these remote areas would agree, if you didn’t start with this mantra, you will develop a deep love for conserving the north and keeping it frosty and cold. So much of the wildlife depends on it and a huge part of why we want to go to these remote places is to see a polar bear, a narwhal, or a beluga, but without sea ice, which is like the soil to the forest of the north, it’s not possible. Expedition travel is much more than just a platform to see these remote things, it’s a platform to educate, create meaningful discussion, and bring about change.

Jenny standing

© Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong on a previous expedition.

I know Adventure Canada is committed to the conservation of these places – with education and cultivating a connection at the forefront of their programs; it’s part of the business and a part of their ethos. Like Adventure Canada, I take huge enjoyment in trying to merge the two. I strive to understand the world through science and communicate it through the visual and emotional art of storytelling. Using my craft and my platform, I try to spread awareness about things like climate change and inspire change.

We could talk about climate action as much as possible, but you have to have companies wanting to make a change.

“It has to be something that comes from a need to do it, a want to do it, because we have to do it.

Companies that are invested in conserving the Arctic, conserving Newfoundland, and conserving culture, it’s in the business, and that’s why I love tourism. We are going to see these beautiful places, but we also need to conserve them because we simply have to.

Jenny Trout river

© Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong in Trout River, a small town snuggled in a sheltered cove on the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Trout River Pond skirts the Tablelands, so while the south side is boreal green, much of the north side of the pond shows as barren, bronze-coloured rock.

What can guests expect when travelling on a Canadian Geographic Adventure Canada expedition?

I always love to share my experience and love for Canada. If you don’t know very much about Canada, you will get a nice dose of the country with your Canadian Geographic Adventure Canada expedition. It’s beyond just the trip that you signed up for, and every ambassador brings something different to the table. For me, it’s photography and adventure, but with other ambassadors, they could be a historian, a geologist, or a journalist that has worked all around the country. We all have different experiences and bring something different to each expedition.

We also give presentations and share our expertise through workshops—I love interacting with guests and connecting with Canadian Geographic’s readership this way.

Quirpon cliff

© Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong on cliffs on Quirpon Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.

I thank those who join a Canadian Geographic Adventure Canada expedition. The contributions to this program help Canadian Geographic magazine, which is a non-profit, to continue. I think Canadian content is very important and support helps develop a love for these places that I think is lacking in the global market.