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April 14, 2014

06:19 am

-23C

James Bay, QC

Out on the thick icy bay at first light, south westerly was a glowing crimson sphere descending on the horizon.

 

With fingers frozen, I lay upon the wind polished ice to snap a couple last shots before daylight would wash away the magic hour.

 

Never could I foresee then that this cosmic occurrence was to be the last image I'd capture for the National Geographic Society (NGS).

For more than 30 years working as a media professional, I traversed the world as a photographer, producer, journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. A vocation that had begun to artfully take its toll on my emotional well-being from covering hostile circumstances and witnessing flagrant injustice.

​Blood

Red

Moon

Over

James

Bay

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Map: Muma, W. (Nov. 1, 2005) The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

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9-months prior the rise of the Blood-Red Moon, my wife was offered a teaching position at Waapinichikush Elementary School in the Cree Nation of Chisasibi. A remote indigenous community situated near a former HBC trading post at Fort George: a delta where the Grand River meets the tides of James Bay. An ideal location, I trusted, where I could recharge to let troubles melt away like Springtime ice.

Without any firm engagements, my sabbatical was to be spent capturing images, making art and exploring at my  pace.

During my many treks across the taiga and around the bay, indigenous Cree inhabitants would often inquire about the audio/visual gear I lugged around. I was quickly becoming a local oddity and resident celebrity.

Keen to immerse in the local culture, I offered photo tips and in return, elders taught me how to carve wood using a crooked knife. Eventually, this led to conducting evening workshops and accepting to sub at the secondary school.

The kindness I felt through varying collaborations, inspired me to ultimately accept a short stint at the high school. Before long my hiatus progressed into a new calling to become a teacher.

Popular belief claims that the "blood moon" is a sign of a new beginning. In hindsight, it has come to signify my pursuit of another university degree in education and a new path as a licensed art educator.

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Photo by J.M. Duchesne for NGS, BLOOD MOON OVER JAMES BAY (Chisasibi, QC. April 14, 2014)