KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This weekend’s weekend video features Halifax musician, photographer and stalwart activist Paul Vienneau.
Paul became a bit of a local celebrity during that terrible winter of 2015. Many sidewalks became impassable for days on end, even for regular pedestrians, let alone for people who, like Vienneau, use a wheelchair. That’s when Vienneau, a.k.a the asshole with a shovel, got tired of waiting for the City to get its act together and started clearing Spring Garden Road sidewalks himself.
I first ran into Paul while reporting on the human rights enquiry into restaurant restrooms accessibility and an earlier fight with the Nova Scotia Human RIghts Commission. He and his fellow complainants were victorious in both cases.
Since that time Paul also began to write about accessibility issues for the Nova Scotia Advocate.
Paul made the video on the 25th anniversary of the injury that took his leg and caused him to use a wheelchair. He calls it his alive day, because although he should have been dead, somehow he survived.
It was his first film as the filmmaker-in-residence for the Bluenose Ability Film Festival, mentored by filmmaker Caley MacLennan. The camera follows Paul handing out bottles of water on Spring Garden Road on a hot summer day.
In the video he talks openly about how his activism helps him keep bouts of depression at bay.
“Each year, about 6 to 8 weeks before the anniversary I have increased trouble falling and staying asleep. Memories of being under the truck and thoughts of my mortality come back. … It’s as if the ghost of my trauma kicked the door open to walk around for a month or two.
“When I am depressed I isolate myself. Three days before recording this video I started feeling depressed and went into isolation. Giving away the water affects me, and after giving a few bottles away I was feeling like myself.
“This helped me see that giving away water has become part of what I am doing with my life. It’s an antidepressant in 24 little plastic bottles.”
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