Raison d’être

Living on the Edge is a documentary film project that puts a human face on climate change in Quebec.  Through the power of storytelling — stories about how real people are already affected by and adapting to climate change right here in our own backyards — we hope to bring the issue of climate change closer to home in a human and compelling way. Living on the Edge should help all Canadians, not just those living on the edge of Canada’s most important commercial waterway and largest estuary, to understand that climate change is not just some future problem affecting remote glaciers and stranded polar bears.  It is already here and is already affecting us, in many different ways.  Living on the Edge bears witness to those Canadians already struggling with this brave new world.

Journalist Susan Woodfine and photographer Joan Sullivan started working on this subject spontaneously in the aftermath of the historic high tide storm surge in December 2010 that caught most of us here in the Lower Saint Lawrence off guard. For many, it was our wake up call, our own “Sandy” that – for better or for worse – finally put climate change on the map in eastern Quebec.

Although we weren’t thinking “film” at that time, the idea came to us slowly over the following year, as Susan continued reporting for the CBC (here and here) and Radio Canada (here and here) on the aftermath of this storm surge and as I continued to photograph coastal erosion, infrastructural damage and the demolition of houses along Route 132.

climate change coastal erosion high tide storm surge quebec 2010 climate change coastal erosion high tide storm surge saint lawrence river house home damage destroy demolish shore

Everything coalesced in June 2012 when Susan was awarded one of four grants provided by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) under its StoryNet initiative that supports the art of documentary storytelling in English-speaking Quebec. Now, the first thing you need to understand is that there aren’t that many English-speakers in this part of Quebec. Slim pickings, if you know what I mean. But Susan was convinced that the work I was doing documenting the impact of climate change among coastal communities along the Saint Lawrence River was a compelling story to tell, considering where I came from and what I had been doing before moving to this rural area of Quebec. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what I mean by this!

So, starting in July 2012, we travelled together as far as the Magdalen Islands, up and down the Gaspe Coast, to the Reford Gardens and to the great metropolis of Rimouski in the Lower St. Lawrence to find out what people thought about climate change, whether it has affected their lives, and how they are adapting.  We met some great people all along our journey, and we’ll be sharing their stories with you in a variety of ways over the coming months.

Cynthia Dow climate change activist quebec canada Lise Chartrand climate change activist Quebec

Alors, come along and join the ride!

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