Greetings from Churchill, Manitoba!
Elysha Poirier and I took the 40 hour train ride from Winnipeg to Churchill earlier this week – since there’s no road in, you can either take the train or fly – and now we’re hanging out here in this town where the railway ends. The polar bear capital of Canada.
Played a fun show at the Churchill Legion on Friday night, and will be playing another show this Tuesday June 16th at the famous Gypsy Bakery.
But playing shows isn’t the real reason we’re here. We are here on an research adventure we’re calling The Idea of North 2.0, following the tracks of Glenn Gould, who’s 1967 CBC Radio documentary The Idea of North inspired the journey. He took the train to Churchill 50 years ago (and i think it literally was the same train, judging by the awesome interior decor) and recorded conversations with fellow passengers aboard the train about the meaning and realities of North in the Canadian consciousness. 50 years later, we had the idea that the idea of The Idea of North was due for an update.
So, riffing on Gould’s theme, we are seeking conversations with Canadians living in different parts of the country – both North and South – about what ‘ North’ means in our collective imagination and experience today.
The outcomes of these conversations? Through an artist residency at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille, we’ll be sharing our findings this coming December in a live performance; the project aims to create a “longitudinal conversation” between the Canadian North and South in this Age of Melting.
It’s a conversation about culture and climate change and colonial history and “Arctic Sovereignty”, about Inuit /Aboriginal / Metis and settler cultures, about our images, identities and experiences of the ideas /polarities that make us a country, and the very different realities we live in and with as Canadians.
Elysha is working on a brand new website that will archive the materials we collect.
Lucky for us, also here in Churchill are Lisa DeLiberto and Charles Ketchebaw of FiXT Point Theatre, who are story gathering for their amazing Tale of a Town Canada project. On their website you can check out the podcasts they are making (in addition to live theatre projects) collecting living history about the downtowns of communities across the country.
No polar bear sightings in Churchill yet, but have had some pretty interesting and inspiring conversations with the diverse collection of folks who make Churchill their home, and those travelling through.
Tomorrow if the weather gets better (currently 2 degrees and raining) we’re going beluga whale watching.