Gatineau, December 10, 2018 – On Wednesday, November 21, nine speakers gathered in front of an attentive audience for the last event of the season organized by A.B.C. Strategies.
Thanks to the collaboration of Theia Partners and Dream Unlimited Corporation which manages the Zibi project, we celebrated the importance in our collective history of the Chaudière Falls – site named Akikodjiwan by the Anishinaabeg (Algonquins). This place is particularly striking because the force of the falls is linked to the birth of the capital of the country in 1857, chosen by Queen Victoria in part because of its situation as the geographic crossroad of Upper and Lower Canada, but more importantly because of the economic importance of the Ottawa Valley. Almost from its beginning, the story of Ottawa’s settlement was coloured by the era of the Raftsmen, those atypical navigators who so influenced the telling of this region’s stories and legends (e. g. Jos. Montferrand).
From this place that fired imagination, a remarkable legacy has survived to this day : a Living-Heritage (or Intangible Cultural Heritage) that is distinct to the Ottawa Valley. In search of an opportunity for development in the Outaouais, our organization acts as a facilitator to see that this unique heritage comes to life. As a result, on November 21 past, we brought together for the first time, two groups of tradition-bearers that are keepers of specialized knowledge and skills : the two lost crafts of timber « crib-making and crib-navigation ».
# Living-Heritage Can Pay Off !
Living-Heritage, recognized as a cultural asset by both UNESCO and the province of Quebec, is a powerful lever that can be used to develop the brand or character of a specific territory. Consequently, the City of Gatineau and six other cities in Quebec have adjusted their cultural policy to include the notion of Living-Heritage (CQPV, 2008).
However, a study established that in the Outaouais region, « the problem of identity and belonging is quite detrimental » to its own development (ODO – UQO, 2018). To change that stumbling block, our organization considers that our public decision-makers must focus on our Living-Heritage and assume responsibility to create a comprehensive development plan that will that will begin to build a collective sense of pride. The Government of Quebec, with its new cultural policy entitled « Partout la culture », has made heritage a priority, combining an additional financial envelope of $35.5M (2019-2023 plan) to an initial investment of $75.2M. Municipalities therefore, have everything they need to make substantial progress ; Gatineau is no exception!
It’s not enough to complain about the lack of funding in culture (ISQ, 2018), since it’s now
well-understood that a structured action-plan that would feature our Living-Heritage would certainly bring net benefits to the community.
# The Outaouais’ Two Living-Heritages
In this respect, the Outaouais is already considered fertile ground. UNESCO and the CQPV recognize the need for the preservation of Living-Heritages and our organization has taken it on as our mission. This region’s Living-Heritage is unique in that its industrial nature is attached to a historical trade route, which brings an additional advantage for tourism development (AQPI, 2017).
The exceptional nature of our Living-Heritage is associated with an expertise that is related to the birth of Canada’s capital. By the historical fact that the Ottawa Valley is the cradle of two lost trades, only our region has a legitimate claim to having the following two Living-Heritages :
- Crib-making and crib-navigation. The skills used by the Raftsmen to make square timber rafts & steer them down a 1000 km river route – from Témiscamingue Lake to Quebec City – to fill the holds of England’s ships.
- Boom-making and log-driving. The skills used by the Log drivers to transport wood to sawmills or pulp & paper mills.
Our region does not yet have a designated Living-Heritage, so in addition to enriching the cultural repertoire, these two Living-Heritages would also enhance the Outaouais’ brand throughout Quebec, Canada and around the world. This Quebec-wide reality would open up a panoply of possibilities for collaboration with the many municipalities that line the old riverways. The Living-Heritage can undoubtably be profitable as both Canadian and foreign visitors « often look for expressions of traditional culture and appreciate the original experiences they create » (CQPV, 2018).
After an inaugural season of activities designed to raise public awareness of the Living-Heritage, the A.B.C. Strategies team will return next year with new themes, to again make cultural waves in the Outaouais.
From symbolic gesture to cultural action, there is only one step. The Outaouais has an incredible wealth of resources that brings meaning to its population and to the whole of Quebec. A.B.C. Strategies is ready to support whichever city or municipality that takes on the task of acquiring official recognition of this Living-Heritage. This request is a symbolic prerequisite that will stimulate regional concertation. – Isabelle Regout, President of the Founding Council of the Philemon Wright National River Museum.
Since July, free and open events have been held in Gatineau, Thurso and Ottawa. During the holidays, please take the time to discover the two 28-minute programs broadcast on MAtv Outaouais and dedicated to the Log-drivers and the Raftsmen – Alexander Pampalon, A.B.C. Strategies Project Coordinator.
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Alexander Pampalon, Project Coordinator, (514) 273-1109 or firstname.lastname@example.org