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Take a ride through Nothern Quebec and Labrador on Canada’s first First Nations-owned railway.
Tshiuetin means “north wind” in the Innu language.
It is also the name of a train line that extends 132.5 miles from Emeril, Labrador to Schefferville, Quebec.
Since December 1, 2005 (and for the first time in Canadian history), ownership of Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc. has been held by a group of First Nations. A sense of pride emanates from the ownership, which is split equally between the Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and the Nation Innu Matimekush – Lac John.
This documentary follows the railway up to Schefferville and back in late February, capturing the importance of this line as it stops in numerous northern communities along its journey.
The majority of passengers on the train travel regularly for work and family engagements, using the railroad because road and air transport isn’t possible in the region – a unique reality that highlights the challenges faced by so many northern communities today.
The Tshiuetin line is a testament to the viability of a business run by First Nations; one that combines local economic benefits with respect for the cultural and linguistic heritage of those who routinely use this service. The train line, while an integral part of the lives of the local population, is remote. Tshiuetin takes the viewer on a journey through the wide-open vistas of Northern Quebec and Labrador. It is a rare opportunity to explore this area and marvel at the breathtaking scenery along the way, while meeting passengers and employees on the train.
The majority of non-local passengers use the railway to access jobs in the mining industry. Shefferville is located in the Labrador Trough, where iron ore is mined, making the train line important as a transporter of raw materials. The movement of these resources is important to the local and global economy. Offering an invaluable service to the communities along its route, the Tshiuetin railway is a melding of traditional values and modern transportation.
This documentary is an acknowledgement of the accomplishments of Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc., the staff and all of the people that ride this historic train line. It is a celebration of the power of independence, the crucial importance of aboriginal owned businesses and the beauty of the northern landscape.
A DESC Images production
Produced in association with
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
In collaboration with DESC
Sophie Benoit Sylvestre
Graphic Design by
Production and Post-Production Manager
Studio Harmonie Team
Sound Editing and Design
Pierre Olivier Grimard
With the participation of
Tshekuan Mak Tshetutamak, 1977
written by Philippe McKenzie
performed by Groupe Folklorique Montagnais
DESC would like to thank
Melissa Castron, Amélie Ducharme, Bernar Hébert, Valérie Noël, Orlando Cordova, James Bérubé and all the workers and passengers of Tshiuetin Railway Inc.