Posted by: rosemary | September 17, 2009

ANISHNABE ATHLETE RAISES MARATHON TO NEW HEIGHTS!

Champion Rocky Decoursay after his run

Champion Rocky Decoursay after his run

(Sept. 17th) Alliance Romaine’s “athlete of the week” award goes to
Rocky Decoursay, a remarkable 36 year-old man from the Anishnabe
(Algonquin) reserve of Rapid Lake, located in La Vérendrye Park.

Soon after the “Run for our Rivers” marathon reached Val d’Or, we
encountered a major problem in the form of a participant who backed
out. A flurry of cell phone calls failed to resolve the problem, and
by Monday evening we were facing the prospect of remaining stranded
for an extended period in Val-d’Or without a marathoner to carry our
important message further south.

But luckily, as we were leaving the municipal library that evening, we
received an unexpected call from a Montreal supporter, who told us how
just a few days earlier she had met Rocky, a part-time runner (and
former gym teacher) from Rapid Lake. Rocky, it turned out was already
aware of our campaign to save Quebec’s remaining large rivers from
hydro-electric development, and by a twist of fate he was currently in
Val d’Or and was interested in helping us.

A few moments after taking that call, we were on the phone with Rocky,
who confirmed that, though he had never completed a full marathon
training, he enjoyed running, and would give it his best shot.

We met Rocky at 7:30 Tuesday morning outside the Native Friendship
Centre, and from the moment we shook hands with him, we were blown
away by his determintation. “I’ll run till I drop,” he told us (or
something very like it.)

It was a true inspiration to see Rocky take off, his limber body
moving beneath an orange jersey as he led our by-now trademark vehicle
with canoe-cum-message mounted on the roof  through the streets of Val
d’Or. When we reached the outskirts of town, he cut suddenly up the
hill to run on the bike path above us, and for a moment it looked like
Rocky was actually flying!

Rocky’s enthusiasm is impressive, but not wholly surprising when you
consider his history. For three generations Rocky’s community at Rapid
Lake has been dealing with the unwelcome consequences of a dam which
created the Cabonga Reservoir on their former hunting grounds. Since
the federal and provincial governments reneged on a resource-sharing
agreement in the 1990s, Rapid Lake has been besieged by logging
companies, and remains mired in factional divisions maintained and
exploited by the federal authorities in order to divide-and-conquer.

Broadly speaking, Rocky’s experience would corroborate first hand the
message that Alliance Romaine is trying to spread to all Quebecers,
namely that hydroelectric dams are not clean energy, because they
inflict grave and long-lasting harm on both ecosystems and
communities.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Rocky had completed his 42-kilometer
marathon (with some intervals of walking), but rather than stop, he
pushed on for a victory lap of 5 more kilometers!

During our first week on the road, Alliance Romaine has been touched
by the spontaneity, drive and courage of many people like Rocky who
have come forward to help us in different ways in our campaign to
protect Quebec’s rivers.

It is our hope as we continue our marathon to gather as many stories
as possible from communities across the province that have been
impacted by hydroelectricity, and to craft our demands and strategies
together so as to become a political force.

A marathoner’s greeting, and warm wishes to all of you!
From on the road, in La Vérendrye Park
The team of Alliance Romaine

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