New Brunswick. Land of the Saints. Day 134

I began cross country skiing New Brunswick a few days ago. If I was a tree, my deepest roots would be on this land.

The past five generations of my mother’s family have lived in St. Damien, New Brunswick. She was 13 of 14 children, Leblancs, all born in the farmhouse still standing at the bottom of the hill. Now the house sits empty most of the year. But in summer, some of those still living return to the house to plant a garden and share food. We all still call it Mamere’s.

miracle still

These are Acadians, a beautiful culture that in some families blends the blood of Mi’kmaq and French. Where poutine does not mean french fries with cheese curds. Here there are many stories not written in books. I realize now that keeps them fluid and flowing. Once hardened into written word, sometimes there is form  but the essence is gone.

The mixing of blood was also the mixing of spirits and concepts of sacred. The Marions of the Catholic faith worship female saints, the Mi’kmaq believed the earth is our mother, they shared a very rare sense of the divine as feminine.

miracle

My first sense of spirit wasn’t in the churches my parents brought me to, it was in nature. At five I was collecting tad pole eggs in marshes and bringing them in a bucket to a homemade pond.  I watched them slowly break out of the clear jelly and go from being static black dots to moving tadpoles; from tadpoles to little green frogs. And they evolved from water to land. I knew  I was like the frog. I had no fear of nature. I felt connected to it.

I grew up believing my spirit had no point of connection to my mothers and the many generations who came before her. But when I dug deep where the old roots grow, I realized it is all the same.

So in this spirit I share two short films, both made here in St. Damien. The first one is called The Miracle of St. Damien and is the very first film I ever made. It is a story I grew up with and I wanted to film it before it disappeared because people don’t believe in miracles anymore. My cousin Nicole Babin wrote the music and helped me with the French interviews.

And the second short film, Sisters, was filmed in St. Damien last June just before I set off on this long journey.

The poster image for 500 Days was photographed here too.

These roots are deep.

Happy New Year

dianne

 

2017-11-23T05:57:59+00:00

8 Comments

  1. Joelene January 4, 2016 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sending prayers as you journey across the country.

  2. Jeanette (Arsenault ) Hamm January 5, 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Thank you Dianne , I posted a comment on Jeanne’s facebook and spelled your name incorrectly ! Your film brought many memories of St. Damien . My grandparent’s ( Gaudet) lived next to your grandparents and my parents were raised there !

    • Dianne Whelan January 5, 2016 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Love that. 🙂

  3. Lisa January 5, 2016 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting! My grandmother still lives in st Damien and my three children and I still try to go visit every so often. We have the greatest time and I have the fondest memories growing up there. I now live in North Carolina. I hope my children love visiting New Brunswick as much as I do! I remember my grandfather dropping stuff off for repairs with the ‘shoe maker’.. Thank you for reminding me of Saint Damien today 🙂

  4. France Knowlton January 6, 2016 at 4:22 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your short film Dianne. I came across it as one of my fb friend shared it. Normand and Richard are my my mom’s cousins and she was born in St-Damien.. My parents still live in St-Antoine and I grew up there. I don’t remember ever hearing the story about this miracle. It’s pretty awesome!!

  5. Denise Cormier January 6, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Hi…my family was born in St Damien…lived next door to Norman…George et Azelie Gaudet…It’s Norman’s son who now lives in my grandparents home My family still has a camp there Thanks for the memories

  6. Gerard Frigault January 13, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

    I was really moved by this beautiful story as I am also an Acadian from New Brunswick and my mother was also a LeBlanc from Bouctouche. She married my father Ernest Frigault in 1925. They had 15 children. I was born number 12.in 1940. I was involved in a bad accident in 1947 in front of our house. I got burried out of sight under a truck load of big logs. In the hospital they thought I was going to die and the priest performed the last rites of the church. I know my mother did a lot praying. I was pretty messed up but I had no broken bones and four days later they sent me home to recuperate. In was bedridden for quite a while before being completely healed…….

  7. Gerard Frigault January 13, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

    I was really moved by this beautiful story as I am also an Acadian from New Brunswick and my mother was also a LeBlanc from Bouctouche. She married my father Ernest Frigault in 1925. They had 15 children. I was born number 12 in 1940. I was involved in a bad accident in 1947 in front of our house. I got burried out of sight under a truck load of big logs. In the hospital they thought I was going to die and the priest performed the last rites of the church. I know my mother did a lot praying. I was pretty messed up but I had no broken bones and four days later they sent me home to recuperate. I was bedridden for quite a while before being completely healed…….

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