From coast to coast to coast, filmmaker explores Canada over six years

Dianne Whelan describes her journey not as an athletic achievement, however as an ecological pilgrimage to honour the land, the water and to pay respect to the Indigenous individuals.

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When filmmaker Dianne Whelan dipped her paddle into English Bay on July 1, it marked the sixth anniversary of when she set out on the Trans Canada Path on Canada Day in 2015.


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She’s acquired 500 kilometres left to paddle earlier than ending her six-year journey in Victoria someday this summer time.

“After I left, I used to be form of on a seek for misplaced knowledge,” Whelan mentioned. “I wished to pay respects to the ancestors of this land.”

The Trans Canada is the longest community of trails on the planet, stretching virtually 28,000 km from the Atlantic to the Arctic to the Pacific oceans, and Whelan has traversed it on foot, bike, skis, canoe and snowshoes, pushing and pulling her gear over rocks, by bogs, over windswept plains and thru dense forests.

“I learn the path was opening up in 2017 and thought I’d depart in 2015 and possibly by the point it opens, I’ll be completed.”

She allowed herself a chuckle.

“That didn’t occur. On Day 10 of the journey I spotted I had not even accomplished what I believed I may do in sooner or later.”


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So she lit a small fireplace and burned her schedule.

“And I finished measuring my journey by what number of kilometres I did in a day,” Whelan mentioned. “I like to inform those who’s the day I dropped my rabbit swimsuit for the turtle shell and realized not all the things of worth may be measured numerically.

“I’d left shortly after I’d turned 50, so how briskly and the way lengthy, how sturdy, none of that basically issues to me anymore. That race appears form of manic to me now.”

Whelan, who attended highschool at York Home in Vancouver, has received awards for her movies, photographs and books. This challenge known as 500 Days within the Wild, which she describes as a mix documentary/journey movie that delves into the realm of fable and legend.

Asking herself what have we forgotten and what do we have to know, and alluding to the five hundred years or so since settlers arrived in what’s now Canada, she sought Indigenous elders and knowledge-keepers alongside the way in which of her ecological and reconciliation pilgrimage.


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When she began out, there had been no inquiry into the lacking and murdered Indigenous ladies and ladies, one thing that horrified her. It wasn’t till 2016 that an inquiry started, with a ultimate report launched in June 2019, calling for 231 particular person requires justice.

She would smudge day-after-day she was on the path to pay respect to these ladies. She was taught that each step alongside the way in which of a journey places your foot on sacred floor, with each paddle in sacred water as nicely. She has travelled 10,000 km by canoe and is happy to complete her journey on the Salish Sea.

Becoming a member of her for the day July 1 was Marlayna Pincott, whose mom was one of many lacking and murdered Indigenous ladies. Whelan and Pincott met virtually 30 years in the past after the stays of the-then-nine-year-old Pincott’s mother, who had been lacking for a 12 months, had been found in a shallow grave outdoors Calgary.


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Whelan took the woman and her brother canoeing, which helped soothe a few of their ache, Pincott mentioned.

So, on July 1, grieving for her not too long ago deceased grandmother and the a whole bunch of unmarked graves which have turned up to this point outdoors residential faculties, Pincott cancelled plans to attend an anti-Canada Day rally and picked up a paddle once more.

“It’s completely an enormous rush of feelings,” Pincott mentioned the night time earlier than they set out. “We hadn’t deliberate for our canoe (departure) to land on July 1, however I do consider all the things occurs for a purpose.

“It might have been divine alignment that it fell on this present day as a result of, as you realize, it’s fairly an emotionally charged day for the Indigenous group given all the things that’s been happening.

“I’m approaching (July 1) as a journey for closure with our gramma, but additionally our continued journey of therapeutic.”



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