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CUPE is proud to announce the release of River of Unity, a half-hour film documenting CUPE’s annual canoe trip to the Back to Batoche celebrations put on by Métis Nation—Saskatchewan, where in 2010 the two organizations signed a historic agreement signalling a new era of cooperation between them.

Produced by Don Kossick and Steve Wolfson of Making the Link Productions and Wolf Sun Productions, the film follows CUPE canoeists on a three-day journey up the South Saskatchewan River. During the trip they were greeted by several Métis Nation leaders and elders, who offered cultural lessons, dances and other performances.

The film also features interviews with Métis and CUPE leaders, who talk about the importance of building a link between the union and Métis people. The canoe trip is an important symbol of that connection.

CUPE national president Paul Moist addresses these and other issues in the film. “Understanding our past and the proud history of the Métis Nation in Saskatchewan is important, and it’s necessary to move forward—to build a better future,” says Moist. “We can take what Saskatchewan’s doing here and add value to the rest of our union.”

Robert Doucette, president of Métis Nation—Saskatchewan, offers his take on the importance of the canoe trip as well: “Once in a lifetime you get to experience something, something that will leave lasting change and you know I’ve really come to see this canoe trip as doing that for a lot of people.”

CUPE also produced a booklet about the canoe trip that includes a brief history of Métis people and the circumstances leading to the Battle of Batoche in 1885. You can find the booklet here.