Gespe'gewa'gi - The Last Land


Episode 1 - Waiting for Ice-Break

After a long winter, the community of Listuguj is excited for the opening of the 2019 fishing season...but they are stuck waiting for ice out and the winds to die down. Episode 1 is an introduction to the people, the land, the history of the fishery, the stand-off, and the court case that paved the way for self-governance and a commercial fishery.

Episode 2 - Hail out on the Snow Crab Season

It’s the first trip of the 2019 season, and we follow two crab vessels that are finally sailing out to sea to catch their crab quota, after days of waiting for the wind to die down. Rodney’s trip goes off without a hitch, and he is the first to return to port with his catch, but Peter has mechanical problems, and what should have been a 30 hour trip stretches into three days at sea (and the prospect of lost revenue).

Episode 3 - Mi'gwite'tm: Remembering 1981

Mi’gwite’tm is a community march and salmon feast commemorating the anniversary of the 1981 raid. It occurs during the middle of the salmon season while the fishers of Listuguj are hard at work on the river. Elders like Madeleine and Gordon are our eyes as we look back on life before and after the raid, and the emotional toll it took on the community.

Episode 4 - Back to the River with Pam

We follow Pam Isaac, one of Listuguj’s most lively characters who has been with the aquaculture team from its inception. Through Pam we find out about the efforts being taken to save the salmon and protect the rivers, and how, much like her, they may travel far away from the Restigouche River but always come home.

Episode 5 - Snow Crab Contest

It’s mid season, and Blayze decides to have a fun competition for his crew to see who picks the best fishing spots. Meanwhile, first year captain Walter gets the worst vessel in the fleet, and struggles to keep it running through a series of mechanical problems. The Captains and crew don’t make money if their boats are not on the water. Complicating life for both, the protected Right Whales are moving into the fishing area, forcing fishers to pull their traps from the water and threatening to cut the season short.

Episode 6 - Salmon Tradition: Passing it on

Through the life of one family salmon fishing on the Restigouche River, this episode focuses on traditional fishing and passing those practices on to a younger generation. In a parallel story we get a glimpse of the efforts being made to pass on the Mi’gmaq language, which, much like the tradition of salmon fishing, had waned but is being resurrected.

Episode 7 - The Rangers

In this episode, we meet some of the rangers who patrol the river, like mother-daughter team June and Ashley, ex-military Don Leo, and supervisor Sonny. Today, the waters are calm, but as elders like Peter Metallic tell us, it wasn’t always so – from gunshots at night to clashes with the police, finally giving way to the establishment of the communities' own branch of enforcement. The rangers' model is so successful that other Indigenous communities are looking to model after it themselves.

Episode 8 - Lobster & Rock Crab Fishing with Josh

On Captain Timmy Wysote’s boat, former captain Josh Barnaby is back to working as a deck hand. Having been demoted prior to the season for an infraction against one of the fisheries' policies, he is determined to work his way back to his old position. Meanwhile, back in the community, we meet the people who run the Beautification team and Community Garden, both direct results of the money that comes from the fishery.

Episode 9 - The Kedgwick Lodge

Herbie is from a long lineage (133 years) of Indigenous fishing guides at the exclusive Kedgwick Lodge, where the rich and famous have come to fish for over a century. He and the other guides prepare for the 2019 salmon season, ready to welcome their first guests, a group of military veterans. Fishing can be a little slower these days. The Restigouche River used to be abundant with salmon, but today, the stocks have diminished significantly. We’ll find out what the Listuguj science team is doing to try and increase the population of salmon in the river.

Episode 10 - Lita and the Pow Wow Crew

It’s mid-summer: snow crab, lobster and salmon seasons are over, rock crab will start soon, and the shrimp fishers are the only ones out on the water. It’s the perfect time for the community Pow Wow. We’ll follow Pow Wow organizer Lita Isaac and her Pow Wow “family” as the weekend unfolds, to some surprise weather and surprise help. We also get the chance to check in with our fishers from other episodes.

Episode 11 - Shrimp Fishing: The Long Haul

We follow Steven Clement and the crew of the GC Macdonald—a shrimp vessel that goes out for 8 to 9 days at a time in the gulf of St. Lawrence. We find out what it’s like to be away for that long, from April to November, and how personalities aboard have to learn to get along. Long, long hours at sea, intense weather, bursts of back-breaking work interspersed with hours of mind-numbing boredom. Away from family and friends, no cell reception, just the sea, the shrimp, the seagulls and the other crew members.

Episode 12 - Father & Son Rock Crab Team

Father-son team Albert and Chris go out on a mid-summer fishing trip together. The waters are calm, and it looks like just another day on the water, when suddenly the boat's hydraulics stop working. Chris and Albert need to rely on each other, some MacGyver-esque problem solving (involving scissors, a rubber glove and a little luck) to get the problem resolved and continue fishing. Albert, Listuguj’s first commercial lobster fisher, reminisces about the early days of the fishery, the struggles and politics that he and his friends went through to get to where they are today.

Episode 13 - The Fall Lobster Fishery

Marcus is the youngest captain in the Listuguj fleet. Running a boat since his early teens, he is now a 10-year veteran behind the wheel at age 23. We follow his crew during the communal Fall Lobster season. But this year, there are new tensions as Listuguj incorporates a commercial aspect to the Fall fishery that puts them at odds with the DFO and the government. Meanwhile, indefatigable Pam and her science team are working hard to get the lobster cooked and bagged to give away to the community and elders. The Fall fishery has long been a tradition to provide food for community. But this year, for the first time, with an eye to the future and self-governance, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government is introducing a commercial aspect which isn’t sitting well with the DFO.