Transcription Protecting the Land

The dam is higher. The two conduits - the two pipes - were coming here. And the building - the power plant - was built in that hole. So in the end, all that, they were going to blast it to run the pipes through the plant and the water would have returned to the river over here. So me, setting up there right next to it, they couldn't really blast. I put myself in the contractor's paws.

It was here that in 2002, we made a 40 day occupation, from October 18, 2002 to November 26. We set up camp here, with a tipi that was right next to it, here with a zip line, a hanging tent - a porter hedge, which we call in terms of climbing. We held a press conference to launch Operation Suspend, to suspend work on the mini-plant which had already started. Then at the same time, by hanging above the void, the idea was to strike the imagination and then to attract media attention to the project. It wasn't a nuclear power plant that they wanted to build, so the developers called it the "run-of-river plant." It almost looks poetic, bucolic, but for us it was a sacrilege to build a dam for so little energy that we did not need in times of energy surplus, to enrich the pockets of a private owner. So it was an environmental battle, yes, but more than that, there was an economic aspect, there was an aspect of protection of the territory, protection of the river, against the privatization of resources as well. But still, I think we put a lot of sand in the gears of these projects, today there are rivers that still flow naturally without having been harnessed by private developers.

Sébastien Rioux, Seb for close friends. What to say… I am an artist-creator, musician, video, photographer. I am a “Pistolois” who was born here, who traveled a bit and came back. You know, before I fought for the Trois-Pistoles River, I wasn't necessarily, and ultimately I don't consider myself to be an environmentalist. I just consider myself a citizen who takes care of his environment. If you want to call him an environmentalist, fine, but at the start, when we wanted to protect the Trois-Pistoles River, we did not say to ourselves: "We are environmentalists, we are going to save the forest, we are going to save the planet. We said: "Hey! We must save our river! And besides, we won! Thank you, life, but I started my activism with a big victory, you know, and then all my life I have said to myself that there is nothing impossible, that you can roll back a government. And from there we said to ourselves: "Crime, what are we doing with our region?”  Because yeah, we've been seen for a long time as 'development inhibitors' and all that, but what we were trying to say is that we want other development. We love our region so much that we want another smarter development. Let's stop doing what everyone else is doing because it’s going to hell, basically. So that's when in the tipi we started to think about alternatives.

Through activities, workshops, conferences and shows, Écho-Fête mobilizes ecological groups in Trois-Pistoles in order to energize the local community and orient its future along sustainable development lines. By creating an ecological, educational, tourist and cultural gathering, the organization contributes greatly to energizing the region, while launching an awareness-raising message that is echoed throughout Quebec.

We set up an environmental festival, Echo-Fête, which lasted a dozen years. There were twelve editions of Écho-Fête. It worked really well, but we had the whole class, well not all, but a good part of the political and economic class who wanted to do the dam project and who saw Echo-Fête as a brake on the dam project. So there was like a little war that played out.

My position as a future candidate for mayor at the level of the mini hydroelectric power station ... my position is to respect democracy. The majority of the population of the city of Trois-Pistoles as well as that of the MRC des Basques have expressed themselves in favor of the project.

Let's use this project. Listen, with all due respect, say, "We go ahead with this and then we work.” But we have to stop pushing back and forth with assumptions that make no sense.

There really was a clash, a cleavage, a dispute. In a small environment like here, it's sad at the same time because there are so few of us that when public opinion is divided, well, we lose… We don't have the synergy we could have. In the end, for holding our end and then fighting like we did, we are rewarded today. For a dozen years, this festival was held at arm's length by a gang of young people, then it attracted other young people from elsewhere, an age group that was missing here. The 20-30 year olds, who are arriving in the area. That is really refreshing, because it is one of the poorest MRCs in Quebec, the MRC des Basques, one of the most aging, if not the oldest in Quebec. We really needed that new blood here, and that's no stranger to the whole battle that's been going on here. I think it's all linked.