Today’s Poll

Daily Dose — Kootenay Film Brings Outdoor Francophone Women to the Forefront

Ari Lord
By Ari Lord
March 26th, 2024

A locally-created short film about French-speaking outdoors women of the West Kootenays, NATURE + ELLES, has been selected for the 2024 Women’s Adventure Film Tour (WAFT).

The film will be screened with English subtitles on April 5th at Castlegar’s Old Theatre with a Q&A with director Jackie Atkins, producer Patrick Lac, and three of the 11 local participants, Sarah Meunier (Castlegar Parks and Trails), Julie-Ann Chapman (She Shreds Mountain Adventures) and Stéphanie Dupont (Muddbunnies Rossland).

“It was wonderful to be involved in a project that seeks to celebrate Francophone culture in Western Canada. The French language is very much alive in BC and it’s great to see that honoured,” says director Atkins.

The short film (20 minutes) is based on a podcast series of 12 episodes, ‘Franc Ouest,’ and season two is entitled ‘Nature+Elles.’ Each episode follows a Francophone woman who is passionate about the outdoors.

“I’m proud to have made something that showcases the beauty of this region and the exceptional Francophone women that have chosen to call it home. Every participant gave it their all, so it’s rewarding to see the finished product celebrate the magic of their unique stories,” says Atkins, who is a local filmmaker, also coaches the Whitewater Ski Team.

“[The project] puts us, as a francophone community, on the map. Because we are a significant little community, and we are a bilingual country, it reminds people that there are francophone speakers here,” says one of the featured women, Alexandra Pronovost.

Jackie Atkins has a laugh with Julie-Ann Chapman of She Shreds during a film shoot. — Alex Balcer photo

The project coordinator, Lac, moved a few years ago from Quebec to Nelson, right at the moment when the Francophone Association of the West Coast (ARCO), based in Nelson, had a grant from Heritage Canada to create a podcast.

Lac came onboard to create season one, which featured area Francophones, but not women and the outdoors specifically.

For Lac, who worked in the recording business as a singer-songwriter for ten years in Montreal, the project was a great fit.

Both Lac and Akins are excited to have the film be part of WAFT. 

“It’s definitely exciting. There are a lot of great films that they’ve showcased in the past and present, so it’s great to be a part of it. I appreciate WAFT’s intentions to bring films that celebrate women in the outdoors to the forefront,” says Atkins.

The film launch on March 8th at the Royal was a great success. It involved a variety of female performers and a DJ. One of the 11 women, Alexandra Pronovost, performed burlesque.

“We launched season two of the podcast series, and we also released our world premiere world at the Royal. It was sold out, completely jam-packed,” says Lac.

Film and podcast subject Pronovost works for Elections Canada and also supports the efforts of the Autonomous Sinixt. She moved to the Kootenays from Montreal at the start of the pandemic. Her main sport is split boarding.

“Reflecting on being a woman in a man’s world comes up a lot [in the film and podcast project]. And also, women doing outdoorsy stuff, but also caring for the environment. That’s refreshing. I just loved doing this,” says Pronovost.

Pronovost is using this platform to share her passion for treading gently on the land, and calling into question the outdoor adventure culture of always taking our adventures to uncharted (often fragile for wildlife) territories.

An exciting development for the team is that starting this summer, the podcast episodes will be available to stream on Radio-Canada (CBC French-language radio).

Learn more about the podcast here.

Learn more about the Castlegar event here.

Buy tickets for the event here.

The film will be screened with English subtitles on April 5th at Castlegar’s Old Theatre.

Categories: Daily DoseGeneral

Other News Stories