I had the honor to visit Sable Island for 6 days in July 2009. I went there, part of a film crew, as a translator, for a documentary film called Sable Memories. That film relates the story of Sable Island through the portrait of 3 women who have lived on the Island; Trixie Boutillier in the early 20th, Cindy Clancey in 1961 and Zoe Lucas who has been living on the Island for 30 years and hopes to stay there as long as she can.
I was very excited to come to such an Island that is so hard to get to: the fog stuck us at the Radisson hotel for 5 days in Halifax. I guess it could have been worst… I read a lot about it but I was not expecting what I was going to see and especially what I was going to feel…
What an amazing windy beach with sand floating all around us that we landed on! That huge seagull, as big as the plane’s wheels, would not move as we approached. Fly away! But she did not move a bit so we waited until she was ready to accept us as her special guest on her land…. Welcome to Sable Island… After the first day, you accept that you are just visitors on the Island and that Nature as its own rights and rules on it and you have nothing but to accept them. Do not interfere… Even if you would like to save that little bird that would probably not make it just because it was born too late. Do not touch the horses even if they are so cute and you are dying to pet them… Do not attempt to make the seals go to the ocean just to get a great shot for the documentary film because if they are not ready to take a bath, they will just stay there and stare at you and your shot will be ruined… Never mind that it was so fun watching them taking a great bath sun. And by the way, who are we to ask them anything? Have they asked us something? No!
I took some great walks in the dunes and on the beaches watching the birds, the different species of grass, the horses and the seals. I was in peace with myself, relaxed and grateful.
What I will remember of Sable Island, despite the filming and the great welcome of the people on the Island, is 4 strong pictures that will stay in my mind forever:
Pollution on the beaches: balloons, ropes, litter of any kind… What a waste… All of that comes from the Continent…
Wild Horses: they have been living there in peace for so many years but until when?
Men and women on the Station trying to keep that piece of land as natural as possible in order to collect so many information for the sake of humanity…
A house buried in the sand: this is what will happen to the world if we do not react in the good way…
I have learnt a lot from the Island and if we do not take care of it, it will vanish. I will start with never ever again buying any balloons… What about you? What can you do for Sable, for the Earth, for yourself?
Cathy Coopman, Film Producer, Paris, France - October 2009.