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Take a ride through Nothern Quebec and Labrador on Canada’s first First Nations-owned railway.

RUNTIME: 10:57

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.

Credits (Click to expand)

A DESC Images production

Produced in association with
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Directed by
Caroline Monnet
In collaboration with DESC

Written by
Daniel Watchorn

Cinematography by
Eric Cinq-Mars

Editing by
Sophie Benoit Sylvestre

Music by
Vince Nudo

Sound by
Stéphane Barsalou

Graphic Design by
Sébastien Aubin

Production and Post-Production Manager
Eric Cinq-Mars

Sébastien Aubin

Assistant Director
Daniel Watchorn

Research Consultant
Melissa Castron

Cinéground Team
Nguyen-Anh Nguyen

Studio Harmonie Team
Michel Boucher

Sound Editing and Design
Pierre Olivier Grimard

With the participation of
Simon-Pierre Astair
Tshiuetin Vollant
Joe Shecanapish
Yoan Jerome
Tommy Vollant

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.