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Cloudberry Connections: Wilderness and Development on the Lower North Shore of Québec


Cloudberry Connections: Wilderness and Development on the Lower North Shore of Québec

Doonan, Natalie (2016) Cloudberry Connections: Wilderness and Development on the Lower North Shore of Québec. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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The region known as the Lower North Shore (LNS) consists of sixteen small communities spread along 400 km of coastline in northeastern Québec, Canada. Prompted by the collapse of its cod-fishing industry in the 1990s, the region has turned to place-branding strategies to encourage wilderness tourism as a form of economic renewal. This research-creation thesis examines rubus chamaemorus, or the cloudberry, a local wild berry, as a contested cultural symbol in this process.
The research question guiding this thesis asks: what are the effects of representations that are being used in efforts to stimulate economic development on the Lower North Shore of Québec? In particular, I analyze how the cloudberry is being used as a symbol of wilderness and purity in current place-branding projects in the region. This image perpetuates a frontier myth that the land is empty and available for privatization. The persistence of this narrative is shown across a history of similar settler colonial projects that use wilderness as a trope to justify so-called “development” of Indigenous land. This thesis argues furthermore that a relational approach to the cloudberry challenges its representation as a fixed “object”, understanding it instead as a nexus of lived relations that include a range of practices such as walking, cooking and camping, and a host of competing interests such as Concordia University, Université du Québec, local development centres on the LNS, as well as Anglophone, Francophone and Innu communities there. Through storytelling, the significance of cloudberries in everyday life on the coast is foregrounded, thus indicating social and environmental forms of well-being that should be respected and encouraged in various partnerships that are currently being negotiated there.
This research has involved building an immersive, interactive installation using projection mapping and voice recognition software. Manifest Cloudberry Dreams is a portable 16’ dome that serves both to archive and share video-recorded stories about harvesting and culinary practices using cloudberries on the LNS. These stories are vital counterpoints to dominant representations of the region as depressed, undeveloped, and dying.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Doonan, Natalie
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:15 April 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Howes, David and Sussman, Mark and Rutland, Ted
ID Code:981006
Deposited On:16 Jun 2016 15:51
Last Modified:15 Apr 2020 00:00
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