North Hat­ley ma­rina aims for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion through ren­o­va­tion

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jor­dan Dionne Spe­cial to The Record

North Hat­ley ma­rina op­er­a­tors, Steve Piercy and Josée Fon­taine an­nounced a plan on Wed­nes­day to com­pletely over­haul the space to cre­ate a gath­er­ing area for youth, First Na­tions, vet­er­ans, and the com­munity as a whole. As a part of that an­nounce­ment, a birch-bark ca­noe, used in the pro­duc­tion of the 1991 film, Black Robe, was launched into the Mas­saw­ippi River.

Greg Bishop, col­lab­o­ra­tor in the new vi­sion of the ma­rina, told The Record that the project is meant to be a step to­wards “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with our in­dige­nous sis­ters and broth­ers” and that the ca­noe launch was the team’s way of hon­our­ing the in­dige­nous peo­ples who were liv­ing in the area long be­fore Euro­pean set­tlers came into the pic­ture.

“we are drop­ping a peb­ble in a pond—cre­at­ing a rip­ple ef­fect,” he said.

The plan for the rein­vented ma­rina in­volves build­ing a two-story lodge-like build­ing that will serve as a fo­cal point for com­munity gath­er­ing and sup­port. He went on to say that the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the ma­rina will “cre­ate a com­munity fo­cal point for fun, ed­u­ca­tion, her­itage, growth and heal­ing that tran­scends cul­tural, lin­guis­tic, and any other bar­ri­ers to love and unity.”

Bishop also noted that it is hoped the ma­rina can build this new vi­sion on a not-for-profit business model, with an eye to cre­at­ing a safe en­vi­ron­ment for vet­er­ans of all sorts and sur­vivors of PTSD where the fo­cus will be on heal­ing.

“The sys­tem is bro­ken and does not pro­vide much heal­ing—just med­i­ca­tion,” he said.

As of yet, there is no date for when con­struc­tion will be­gin on the new Ma­rina and no fur­ther de­tails could be pro­vided on the fi­nanc­ing of the project.

When speak­ing be­fore the launch of the ca­noe, Michael Page, the mayor of North Hat­ley men­tioned that North Hat­ley takes a lot of pride in its ma­rina.

“There are a lot of Hat­leys in the area, but only North Hat­ley has a ma­rina,” he said, adding that the day’s boat launch would “pay trib­ute to the an­ces­tors when they hunted and fished in the area when it was just forests” and that he thinks “it can be more than just a ma­rina.”

Lind­say Eberts, daugh­ter of late movie pro­ducer, Jake Eberts, was present at the boat launch to see the con­tin­u­a­tion of the boat’s legacy as well as see her fa­ther’s legacy live on. Jake Eberts grew up in the area and pro­duced four films based on in­dige­nous sto­ries. Two of which were made in the East­ern Town­ships.

As such, Lind­say went on to say that First Na­tions and friends are close and im­por­tant to their fam­ily.

The ma­rina will be re­named once ren­o­vated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the res­i­dents of North Hat­ley.

A group of lo­cal youth were in­vited to be the lucky few that tested the in­tegrity of the birch bark ca­noe on the wa­ter. Olivia Page, was one of what Bishop re­ferred to as “stand-in Abe­naki war­riors”

“It was re­ally cool to be sit­ting in a piece of his­tory,” she said, al­though she added that some tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties arose with the nav­i­ga­tion of the ca­noe.

“We aren’t well versed in the sport of ca­noe­ing and we had some dif­fi­cul­ties with the boat. That just made us ap­pre­ci­ate the Abe­naki cul­ture even more though. It’s amaz­ing how that was just a way of life for them and they’d ride for days and days with no prob­lems.”

No rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the lo­cal Abe­naki com­munity were present for the an­nounce­ment and launch, but the over­all at­mos­phere among those present was one of com­mu­nal hope for the vil­lage of North Hat­ley and the de­sire to en­gage in ef­forts of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and unity.

JOR­DAN DIONNE

A group of five youth were cho­sen as the lucky ones to bring the birch bark ca­noe on the wa­ter.

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