July 1 2017, The Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail) will officially open, making it the longest trail in the world – 23,000 km, 7,000 of it by water, linking over 1000 communities and the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans.
July 1, 2015 in St. John’s NL, filmmaker Dianne Whelan began a solo 3-year pilgrimage across The Great Trail to create her next feature documentary – 500 Days in the Wild. Dianne’s unexpected & sometimes-humourous misadventures contrast with her profound awakenings. Her journey on the trail combines with stories of the land, people and communities she passes through. 500 Days is an unfolding story that will ebb and flow between documentary and adventure film, taking us into the realm of myth, fable, and legend.
From pushing 150-pounds of bike and packs over rocks, to hiking through flooded bogs, paddling the largest lake in the world, snowshoeing through dense coniferous forests, skiing across wind blown plains, biking along pristine trails in all seasons, the trail beckons. Dianne travels the ‘Old Way’, the slow way of the turtle, seeking wisdom from those that live close to the land, asking the questions “what have we forgotten?” “What do we need to know?”
At 50 Dianne found herself at a crossroads, the world no longer making sense. Have we lost our way? Is it time to revisit our myths and identity? Like millions of people on pilgrimages, she is on a quest for deeper meaning and we are invited along. This epic experience awakens our hearts, speaks to our soul and inspires our minds.
With her Newfoundland and Acadian ancestry and Mi’kmaq great-great-grand parents, Dianne’s journey is about building bridges between the diversity of cultures that inhabit this land. The umbilical cord that is this trail links the Viking descendent in The Gaff, Newfoundland, the Mi’kmaq Elder in Cape Breton, the Mi’kmaq/Korean Water Grandmother/scientist in New Brunswick, the Quebecois stewards of the Sentiere Charlevoix living off the grid. As the journey continues into the arctic and towards the pacific, this family of storytellers will grow.
For all our differences, what links us is this land.
500 Days is the continuation of an old story – the artist dropping out of society and reconnecting to nature – but it is also a new story, a realization that we will not survive traveling solo. 500 Days in the Wild challenges us to revisit our past, our connection to the land and its people, to find our inclusive story that will carry us into the future.