Rivers as Highways: Beginnings

by Emily Rose Michaud

“I grew up on the shores of the Gatineau river in Western Québec and those waters have shaped me to my core.”

Super 8mm film (black and white)

I shot my first super 8mm film in October 2013, looking at the parallels between rivers as highways and their ancestral and contemporary trade routes. This is the beginning of my research for an unfolding project.

I grew up on the shores of the Gatineau river in Western Québec and those waters have shaped me to my core. As a non-aboriginal woman ‘from’ this place, I’ve become attached to the landscape of this region: I’ve seen the landscape change and the population grow over 25 years. With the new Highway 5 extension North soon upon us, our numbers will continue to grow and likely faster than we think. Since the Paddling for Our Waters* event last June, a spark has grown to understand more about the ancestral significance and history of this body of water. I’d also like to participate in more days like the last Solstice – more experiences that serve to bridge the essential and on-growing ties between non-aboriginal and aboriginal communities.

The spark has led me to an idea for an art project about rivers as highways. I’m making a short 8mm film that parallels rivers and highways in their various forms – the film aims to shed light on their history as ancestral and contemporary trade routes. Maybe it can communicate some of the symbolism that we enacted, but mostly I want to inspire a more pro-active relationship with the water that we so rely on: more speaking out; more action; more love and recognition of the importance of these waters; more protection against their ultimate exploitation and erasure.

* On June 21, 2013, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg members expressed interest in taking a canoe excursion using their traditional travel route along the Gatineau River as a demonstration and to place attention on the need to protect water and eco-systems along the Ottawa River watershed. The canoe trip began in Wakefield, Quebec and arrived on Victoria Island in Ottawa, Ontario for the summer Solstice. The purpose of the canoe trip was to raise awareness for the need to protect our waterways.

Project Photo Archives

Sound & Motion, Volume 1 Issue 2