Formed in 1996 as the Canadian Affiliate Organization of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE), the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology – CASE (l’Association canadienne pour l’écologie sonore – ACES) is a coalition of Canadian individuals and institutions concerned with the state of the soundscape.
As acoustic ecology is the study of the relationship between living organisms and their sonic environment (or soundscape), it is the CASE mission to draw attention to unhealthy imbalances in this relationship, to improve the acoustic quality of a place wherever possible, and to protect and maintain acoustically balanced soundscapes where they still exist.
As a multidisciplinary organization CASE includes those who are committed to caring for the quality of the acoustic environment through their respective fields. If they are creators of sound, for example, they are sensitive to the relationship between their sound production and the acoustic environment. (CASE recognizes and supports the principle of sexual equality, and of English as its principal language of communication and of French as an official language).
“The Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE)/Association canadienne pour l’ecologie sonore (ACÉS) exists!” – wrote Claude Schryer in the first CASE Newsletter of January 1998. Thanks to his enormous engagement and efforts – which were already apparent during the organisation of the Banff conference in 1993 where he played a major role in instigating the foundation of the WFAE – CASE/ACÉS “became a legal non-profit federally registered corporation in June 1997. It was founded by some 30 individuals on July 31, 1996 at the Haliburton Soundscape Workshop and is governed by a six member board of directors who were elected in June 1997 in Toronto: Claude Schryer, president, Andra McCartney, vice president, Tim Knight Treasurer, Richard Windeyer, secretary, Gayle Young and Murray Schafer, members at large.” In its early days CASE was very active in conjunction with a variety of events such as the Open Ears Festival in Kitchener Ontario and International Noise Awareness Day, among others. Schryer also worked in close contact with the WFAE Vancouver office that was overseeing the organisation’s general affairs such as membership, newsletters, correspondence, etc.
CASE was the second regional group – FKL the first – which had formed since the founding of the WFAE at the 1993 Banff conference. Claude was the organisation’s first and very active president. Continuing discussions mostly between Claude, Gary Ferrington (our tireless webmaster!), Justin Winkler (FKL), Peter Grant and myself about how the WFAE could best function. It was in this context in which Gary Ferrington first mentioned the possibility of the WFAE becoming a confederation of independent acoustic ecology organisations, which then was picked up and developed by Nigel Frayne when he became the WFAE’s chair at the Stockholm conference in 1998. After this conference Claude Schreyer resigned as chair of CASE and Darren Copeland was voted in as the new chair.
Darren Copeland started working with CASE in the late nineties following an AGM in Kitchener that Claude Schryer organized at the Open Ears festival. Among the many other things, Claude was instrumental in helping to bring the various affiliates in other countries together (along with Nigel Frayne, Hildegard Westerkamp, Justin Winkler, Gary Ferrington and others) at the early stages of the WFAE. The overriding vision and hope for CASE in the early days was to make it as widely known to the general public through localized activity and to find ways to expand the membership outside of composers and sound artists.
After Claude Schryer stepped down in 1999 Darren Copeland became the President of CASE. In 2000 he helped organize the Toronto Sound Mosaic, an historical study of the Toronto soundscape over 200 years that resulted in a soundscape documentary. This engaged people of all walks of life into discussion of the soundscape as interview material was collected for the project. During that time, CASE sponsored the Sound Escape conference hosted by Trent University in Peterborough organized by Ellen Waterman. This conference had many memorable encounters for Darren and was an inspiration to many that attended. He helped organize the 2004 Haliburton retreat in 2004 but as New Adventures in Sound Art developed through the first part of this decade Darren’s focus shifted away from CASE and so due to time constraints and he resigned from the board in 2004.
Nadene Thériault-Copeland joined the CASE board of directors in 2004 at the same time as Victoria Fenner became interim chair in 2004. Nadene served as the CASE President from 2006 until 2011. Nadene organized the 2004 and 2007 retreats in Haliburton, Ontario which included as speakers sound ecologists Nigel Frayne, Robert Mulder, Kristie Allik, R. Murray Schafer, Andrea Dancer, Bernie Krause and many more. Nadene also organized the 2009 retreat on Gabriola Island, BC with the help of Leah Hokanson which include as speakers sound ecologists Hildegard Westerkamp, Eric Leonardson, Charlie Fox, Eric Powell, Barry Truax and Noora Vikman as well as some smaller one-day workshops and SOUNDwalks in Toronto and Mississauga over the last two year period of her term.
In 2011, Andrea Dancer stepped into the role of Chair after serving as a board member and WFAE representative since 2007. That same year, Andrea curated the Last Hand-Rung Bells of Canada project for World Listening Day and in 2012 coordinated the editorial committee of the international Murray Schafer 80th Year Festschrift publication (Darmstadt University Press, Germany). CASE also underwent a process of organisational restructuring such as developing internal documentation and systems, updating banking procedures, and cultivating a fully active and engaged board of directors. The board of directors re-envisioned and implemented goals such as CASE as having Canada-wide representation on its board and broadening its network of diverse sound-based researchers, sound artists and acoustic ecologist practitioners locally, nationally and internationally. A new website was designed by board members based on these goals, including an online publication (the CASE blog) that contains podcasts, articles, research and event synopses.
In 2014-15, CASE guest edited the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology Soundscape Journal’s special edition, Canacoustica: Canadian Perspectives on Sound and the Environment that highlighted current research in Canadian Acoustic Ecology. The journal was distributed via mail to more than 200 acoustic ecologists worldwide and is currently advocating for an open access online PDF version. Board members continue to work locally, as well as nationally and internationally on behalf of CASE and in 2015, CASE launched its Audio Postcards Canada project, receiving 81 submissions from across Canada including First Nations and Northern communities. This project’s online juried exhibition will launch in June, 2016 with events planned into 2017. Since then CASE has continued with various projects including the Pandemic Listening Series in 2022. In January 2022, Hildegard Westerkamp returned to CASE as chair followed by Claude Schryer again from 2022-2023.