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The Canadian – Part III

April 5, 2017

Third post from Indigineous artist-in-residence, Patrick Hunter, currently traveling across country courtesy of VIA Rail.

April 5, 2017

“What’s your favourite part of this trip so far Patrick?”, is something I keep asking myself. The glutton inside of me shouts, “the best is breakfast, lunch and dinner!” (My compliments to the VIArail chef!)

While the artist inside me is filled to the brim with inspiration for a show called, “the Canadian”. What I know for sure about this trip though is that the quiet moments you have to yourself are some of the best therapy there is. The scenery undoubtedly, is charming in spots (all of Saskatchewan) and awe inspiring in others. I’ve seen ALOT of wildlife, though the ride isn’t over and my fingers are crossed for some wolves.

What I LOVE about this trip is being seated with perfect strangers every day for a meal and hearing their stories from their part of the country or their nook of the world. There’s just something about being on a train that’s different than being on a plane or a bus; people are more willing to share for some reason.

The other day I sat with a non Indigenous couple from Australia. They were telling me about how they’re trying to fight a fracking company back home so their water supply wouldn’t be poisoned. It reminded me of the ongoing battle between First Nations and fracking companies here in Canada. We also talked about the similarities between Canada and Australia and the strong ties to the monarchy.

I was able to enlighten some Canadian ladies at lunch who were full of life, but had never heard of the 60’s scoop. (Incase you haven’t heard, in the 60’s the Canadian government forcibly removed children and infants from their parents care and put them all up for adoption). I was able to share with them how my mother overcame having gone through that system and reclaimed her identity. Now she is an operator of a 30ton truck and works deep underground in Canada’s richest gold mine.

I was educated about an abandoned town outside of Kamloops, BC called Tranquille. It started out as a facility for people with tuberculosis until that disease was cured. Then it became a community of people with mental disabilities. who grew their own food, had jobs within their community and were living full and meaningful lives. However , in the 70’s the government found it cheaper to medicate them and put them into facilities in the city.

Another woman from Brazil, hopped on a plane, took English classes for two weeks just to be able to talk to people on this train!

The scenery is one thing, but the stories that people can tell on this train is what will take your breath away.

 

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