In partnership with Exeko, the Boussole project is a multidisciplinary group of exchange and artistic creation that questions about the realities of the aboriginal communities, and offers creative activities to promote exchange of cultures through artistic mediation. This intergenerational project builds on cultural exchanges between two indigenous communities: Innu-Québec and Nahuatl-Mexico.
Photos: © Merry Wafwana for Exeko
By Alessia De Salis, Exeko facilitator
Innu community all the way up north at the 55th parallele. An other place that exists on the map even if we never really hear about it. 12 hour train ride north from Sept-Îles which is a 12 hour ride north from Montréal. No roads. Just wilderness and a train track. The time stops when I’m on the train. Just the distance exists. Every minutes in that train is a landscape worth a writing a poem. Every stranger is a conversation to learn from. The train rides alongside with an endless river. And along this river, little houses hidden between the trees, under the snow. Wooden walls and a wood stove. The train suddenly stops about 5 hours out in the wild. An old native couple of at least 70 years old jump out of the train with one bag and a 4 gallon of water. They make their way through the thick snow. The train starts again and the little house disappears between the trees. The train will only stop on its way back in one week. Staring at them by the window, I wonder what is their story...
A box of food, a bag of clothes, hundreds of questions, and a puppet. Four girls on a adventure to meet with the humans of Matimekush. We are welcome by this beautiful Innu community. Marjolaine, our host, will teach us everything we need to know so that we understand where we are. Firts leason is to slow down. Then she invites us at the sweat lodge that is held by a old shaman. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced one ? Such a huge and moving experience. In a tiny tent, a group of women are all sitting tightly one against the other. In the dark, in the middle of the tent the red stones are being splashed with water as the space gets steamy hot. The women start singing and drumming in the dark. Their voices call for the creator and their drums dance with the rythm of our hearts... Once again time doesn’t exist. I am with all women of all times....overwhelmed.
The next day the work starts and we get to spend the week with the kids of the community. We do theater, puppets, philosophy and even some games a great guy I met tought me that were really usefull with the bad boys of the school. 40 kids at the school...at the end of the week we had 40 new friends. They thought us about hunting caribou and surviving in the wild. They are so wise about the nature, using every single thing from the animal, knowing their way through the forest, every movement has a reason to be, walking for miles with out saying a word and always knowing where they are....and now and I’m trying to put words on that same experience...
And now back to reality... for now... In the train again, the hole adventure slowly has the time to find a place in my body, in my heart, in my mind. A 12 hours train ride is needed. So much to bring back with us. Looking by the window the pine trees are getting fatter as we go south. In the background the sun leaves an orange and pink tint in the sky and Matimekush leaves a glow to my heart.
Special thanks to the project partners :
⊙ Matimekush-Lac John Health and Social Services Centre
⊙ Kanatamat Tshitipenutamunu school