We finished up all the practicum-related paperwork on Friday evening! That meant that we could take full advantage of our last weekend in Chisasibi.
There has never a dull moment throughout our time in Chisasibi. We have been so fortunate to explore the community and surrounding areas, and to also meet lots of new people. And that’s exactly what we continued to do on our last weekend. We were quite literally on-the-go right until we left for the airport.
After volunteering for Run Chisasibi, we went to the beach to celebrate Alex’s birthday. It was a beautiful, warm evening. We were surrounded by new friends, lots of dogs, a gigantic bonfire, niskich (geese) and a lovely sunset. There were also a lot of unwanted mosquito friends. But, we were lucky that the bugs only started to get bad the day before we left! We survived, returning home with lots of bug bites as momentos.
On Sunday, we woke up early to have a breakfast with Solange and Alex. Then Alex took us to see the LG1 dam; the final dam of a series built by Hydro Quebec as part of the James Bay Project.
This massive project, while providing a great source of energy, created a great changes in the lives of the Cree in Chisasibi.
The site of LG1 used to be a very popular fishing spot, but now that is no longer possible. There was an outdoor exhibit featuring poetry about these changes. It was very emotional to read them.
Here you can see part of the reservoir that is needed to power the dam. The reservoir is covers an immense amount of land; areas that used to be hunting grounds. Flooding this area, as well as similar, often larger, expanses of land to build the other dams, drastically changed the way that the Cree of the James Bay region live.
Hunting and fishing were disrupted on a massive scale, not just in the areas that were flooded, but in the region as a whole. The migratory patterns of most of the animals in the region changed as a result of this flooding. This, combined with having to give up huge swaths of land for the project, led to the Cree establishing themselves in cities along the bay, departing from their traditional ways of living mostly in the bush.
Furthermore, mercury levels in the water rose so high that some people living in the region got mercury poisoning. Prior to the construction of the dams, it was commonplace to drink from the La Grande River, and fish from the river was a staple in the diet of most people living near its banks.
For more information on the social implications of the project, check out this link.
We returned from the LG1 trip just a bit before leaving to the airport.
None of us could believe how quickly the Chisasibi visit went, and that we were already on our way home.
We were recommended to sit on the right side of the plane so that we could get a good view of Chisasibi, which was now much more familiar to us.
Do you see the water in the distance? That’s the James Bay!
The trip home was so quick! It only lasted about 3 hours, including a brief stop in Chibougamau, where we re-fuelled, went through security and picked up more passengers.
The spring practicum has now officially stopped. It is all done (shaash).
Goodbye Chisasibi! We’re going to miss you a lot!