Documentary film follows 5 women as they embark on ambitious expedition in northern Quebec

·2 min read

In the summer of 2019, a group of five women made a bumpy landing on a gravel runway near the Quebec-Labrador border, took a deep breath and began an ambitious journey through the Kuururjuaq provincial park.

Their journey is captured in the documentary film Traversées, or Passages, in English.

Co-directors Florence Pelletier and Caroline Côté assembled their team of women from across the province, bringing people from Nunavik to the Gaspé to Montreal together for the adventure.

They came together as strangers with a common purpose: to take on a 20-day hiking and rafting expedition from the foothills of Mt. D'Iberville in the east, along the Koroc river to Ungava Bay.

Caroline Côté
Caroline Côté

Pelletier told CBC's All in a Weekendthat it was a grueling journey, but one of personal transformation for everyone involved.

"I could feel that everyone was living a bit their own transformation during the expedition," she said. "There's no distraction from your own mind. You're always with your thoughts."

Pelletier and Côté had visited the park before and felt changed by the experience. That's why they decided to return and capture their journey on film.

Pelletier, who is a Radio-Canada journalist based in Montreal, described it as a "mental journey" as well as a physical effort.

Caroline Côté
Caroline Côté

She said the first day of the hike was, by far, the most challenging, as the group had to hike until 2 a.m., unable to stop until they reached their first camp.

"The first day was a bit more risky for polar bears, so we really wanted to make sure we got to that basecamp," said Pelletier.

None of the team members are professional athletes, she stressed, so they had to prepare as best they could.

Joanna Katrena Cooper, a student from Kuujjuaq who studies fine arts at Concordia University, prepared for the expedition by carrying her loaded backpack up and down the stairs of her apartment building in Montreal.

She agrees with Pelletier's assessment of the journey, saying it was "more mentally taxing than physically."

Caroline Côté
Caroline Côté

Cooper described the journey as "surreal" and said it gave her a new appreciation for conservation efforts.

"I'm a big advocate for keeping our land as sacred as it is and keeping it and maintaining it," she said.

Listen to the full interview:

Watch a trailer for the film here. The film is streaming with English subtitles on the digital platforms of Cinéma Beaubien, Cinéma du Parc and Cinéma du Musée.