One out of every 128 citizens of Lac-Mégantic died on July 6, 2013. As time passed, Michel Huneault tried to comprehend what such a constellation of traumas and mournings means. Having worked in other post-catastrophe situations, he was interested in how the community handled the emotional burden while dealing with the more pragmatic imperatives of recovery: arranging funerals when victims’ identification takes months, battles surrounding the reconstruction (and demolition) of the historical downtown, domino expropriations affecting even more lives, the control of information, the absence of answers, the fear of unknown, the contamination and its legacy, the constant and numbing murmur of it all.
Huneault believes that grasping and representing this complex atmosphere is the key to understanding the full depth of the incident in order to be able to formulate relevant solutions to move forward.
Huneault will keep going back to Mégantic, hopefully to find more light and healing, but also up the train track toward North Dakota, to where this oil and darkness originated. Today, although the town centre remains flattened, the tracks were the first thing to be rebuilt and train traffic has resumed, including cargo of hazardous goods. While less oil is transiting here – for now – it is passing through other North American towns every day…