20080725 One last day in Quebec

July 25th, 2008 by becky

We made it to Sablon-Blanc and we are camping on the beach in the fog with Isabel, Thomas, and Sebastian. Thomas and Isabel met Sebastian on the ferry. He is visiting his mother in St. Pierre et Michelon, but rather than go there directly he came to Canada via Calgary and took the bus to Rimouski (via Winnipeg, Ottawa and Quebec). After Rimouski, he made his way to Sept-Iles hitchhiking, since he missed the boat in Rimouski by an hour. Perhaps a little more adventure than he was planning on!

The fog is thick and making the outside of the tent any everything that comes in direct contact with the outside damp. The beach smells of dead fish. We are less than a km from the ferry docks, so we can hear the boat unloading cargo. The boat will leave Blanc-Sablon at midnight, so after that things will get quieter.

There is a theory that the ferry leaves at 10:30; however, the latest information is that it is 10:30 in the Newfoundland timezone, not Quebec timezone — even though it is leaving from Quebec. So, we will need to be back at the ferry docks for 8:00 am to buy tickets for the 9:00 am departure. We’ll try to pack up immediately in the morning and go directly to the ferry docks. If we have a wait there, we can make breakfast up there (and there is likely to be fresh water somewhere up there, which will make it easier).

In the afternoon at one of the stops we were able to visit the bridge of the ship. This was only because we had done the captain a favour by pumping up his bicycle tires :). We managed to bring Thomas and Isabel It was neat to see the bridge, and get an idea of the equipment used to maneuver the ferry through some of the narrow channels. They rely fairly extensively on radar and the gyrocompass, but still take fixes to validate the radar and gyrocompass are still sane. The GPS-enabled electronic charts are not accurate enough to keep them in the centre of the channel in some places, so they are used mainly as a backup and for general reference.

One other area that was particularly interesting was around the discussion of the new boat. This discussion occurred in French so we missed most of it, but were briefed by Thomas afterwards. The new boat will be twice as big and have a separate VIP section, with a bar. It sounds like this may lead to segregation between the tourist passengers and the locals – especially the natives.

There seems to be significant segregation in the coastal villages we visited over the last few days. There are “white” villages and “native” villages, and they each have their own schools. A lady we met from the village of St. Augustine said that the kids in the white school learn English and French, such that by the time they are in Grade 6, they are fluent in both. In the native school they learn 3 languages (English, French, and the native language). Neither of us understand enough of the situation to have an informed opinion, but our gut reaction is anti-segregation. One question seems to be how do you provide a common curriculum with two such different cultures and different languages. Is part of this a reaction to the Residential Schools and their attempts to re-culture the native children?

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