Ecofeminists launch 'blue expedition' to study plastic in river
The sailboat on board which the researchers will leave.
A crew of 12 women and people from the LGBTQ2S+ community will set off to explore the Gulf of St. Lawrence on August 26 aboard the EcoMaris sailboat. Coming from the world of scientific research and the world of the arts, this crew will document and study plastic pollution as part of a “Blue Expedition”.
On board the ÉcoMaris, artists will meet and literary creators, as well as scientists, including Anne-Marie Asselin, head of mission and marine biologist, who will be responsible for collecting data on the shores. A science popularizer will also produce a series of podcasts called Balad’eau à bord.
The goal will be to work in an “interdisciplinary” way, summarizes Ms. Deslauriers. The whole crew will put their shoulders to the wheel and help each other, for example during bank cleaning activities.
The sinews of war will be to share what we’re going to experience with the general population, to make Quebecers aware of climate change and lead them to discover this environment.
Anne-Marie Asselin, marine biologist, head of mission and responsible for data collection on the shores.
The tools used to disseminate scientific discoveries and achievements during the Expedition will be “halfway between science popularization and culture”, says Ms. Asselin. The idea is to simplify environmental issues and raise public awareness by using a creative approach, the results of which will be shared on the expedition’s social networks.
A photo taken during a shoreline cleaning activity, organized by the Blue Organization. This NPO carries the Blue Expedition project. Photo credit: Blue Organization Facebook page
An ecofeminist expedition
This “new genre project” offers an “ecofeminist and interdisciplinary” vision of the research, explains Ms. Asselin, who is carrying out the project with Camille Deslauriers, regular professor in creative writing in the Department of Letters and Humanities at the University of Quebec in Rimouski.
Ecofeminism is a philosophical, ethical and political movement (sometimes even with spiritual tendencies) that weaves links between the exploitation of women and the destruction of the environment.
This is why the researchers who will board the sailboat will all be women from the LGBTQ2S+ community. The stories collected and the issues studied will therefore be carried by the eyes and voices of the members of these communities.
The goal is also to raise the voice of women and underrepresented groups within the scientific community.
A “geopoetic posture”
This is the term used by Camille Deslauriers, the mission's principal researcher and literary creator, to describe the approach to artistic creation that will be used during the project’ Blue Expedition.
“It's a posture of writing on the ground, she popularizes, either on the boat or on the banks, so wherever we go.” To put it simply, the idea will be to create from materials found in the field and to be constantly in motion in the place explored. The team will therefore take photos, note the beginnings of stories or ideas for fragments or short stories which will then be reworked on the boat. “We will work with drawings, collages and cards too,” adds the literary creator.
In addition to this “creation” portion, the researchers will enter into dialogue with the scientists for a more “reflective” portion of their research, with the aim of seeing how the harvesting of materials is going on their side. . The artistic researchers will therefore try to exchange and create parallels with their own creative process.
Microstories and microplastics
On the “pure and hard” scientific side, summarizes Ms. Asselin, two hypotheses will be tested during the mission. For the first, “the scientific premise is based on the gîre of the Gulf of St. Lawrence”.
A gîre is a large whirlpool found in the oceans, in five places on the planet. At the heart of the gîres of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are the continents of plastic.
The question is therefore whether, at the microscopic level, plastic will be found in the heart of the river gîre, on its scale.
The microplastic sampling will end a five-year research that can finally be published.
The scientific team will also go “to testify, for the first time, on an exploratory basis, and to document the modern issues of plastic pollution on practically or completely uninhabited coasts of the lower North Shore”, popularizes the marine biologist. The islands of Anticosti and La Madeleine, the Mingan and Sainte-Marie archipelagos will be explored, among others.
What will be found on the banks of these sectors, both what is natural and what pollutes, will serve as inspiration for the team responsible for literary and artistic creation, explains Camille in turn. Deslauriers.
The idea of collecting waste. It’s super inspiring because we’ll collect lots of materials, then we’ll be able to ask ourselves what the banks have to say, what the waters, the river have to say.
Camille Deslauriers, principal researcher of the mission
The idea of all this will be “to keep traces, but also to travel through all these places with fresh eyes, by relating to the place and to write from this relationship that’ we will establish with the place”, she says.
We will probably carry a little revolt, carry sadness, depending on what we will find. There will also be beauty, so we will go through a lot of emotions.
Camille Deslauriers, principal researcher of the mission
“Poetic postcards” will also be produced. Photos will therefore be taken and from these, micro-stories or fragments of texts will be written. Throughout the mission, the Instagram and Facebook accounts of the Blue Expedition will be nourished by the writings of the creators and therefore, thus, by the experiences and discoveries of the scientists.
The Expedition is the project of the ;Blue Organization (OB). This Quebec NPO has as its main mission the conservation of the environment. “We have a very strong focus on preserving the marine environment in our area,” explains the general manager of Organization Bleue, Anne-Marie Asselin. The OB therefore focuses particularly on the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean.