NORTH to CHURCHILL
It is not the destination but how you get there that forms the story. The story in "NORTH to CHURCHILL" are the people: the railroad employees, those waiting for their family to return from shopping in Thompson, and those returning home from years spent in Winnipeg. And now with the increasing environmental changes, there are hundreds of tourists in search of the natural beauty of the North who travel by train to Churchill each year. From the lasting scars of the Residential Schools and the relocation of the Sayisi Dene from Duck Lake to Churchill, there are many in Churchill who continue to live in the shadow of this sad history. The documentary will highlight the strength that is found in the people of the North, especially through individuals like Ila B., a Survivor, a past Chief of her community and visionary of the future for her family and fellow Dene. Travel on the train in "NORTH to CHURCHILL" will bring the viewer into the heart of this remote community and share a moment in time that may soon be gone because of the influx of multi-nationals developing the North.
A train captures you into its moving community and holds you under one roof to share in a common goal – the destination of the final train station. As a director, train travel is my addiction satisfying my need to escape and daydream surrounded by people I may never see again. In 2015, with only two weeks off from a consulting project and a desire to see more of Canada, I looked at VIA's train map and then looked north. From Toronto to Winnipeg on the train is almost two days with an overnight stay in Winnipeg, and then north for two more days to Churchill. I packed a bit of summer and winter clothes, not knowing what this August trip would bring as we headed towards the Arctic Circle. This was to be a true adventure to see the polar bears, belugas, and northern birds before their migration south. It was also to experience first-hand what it is like to live in the North and have only the train or plane to get you in or out of your community.
In the documentary, the viewer will experience northern Canada train travel: moments of silence disrupted by outbursts of laughter, banter and crying babies, lulled by the sounds of the train on the tracks, guided by personal interviews of travellers on this northern journey. And within this framework, it is the personal interviews of fellow travellers, and those living in Churchill who will tell a story connecting the viewer to the raw beauty and strength of those who journey, "NORTH to CHURCHILL".