CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008
River of Life opens with brief interview clips of various groups of people from all over the world who have entered the Yukon River Quest in June, 2006. While there are 168 paddlers, the focus is on eight women who have come together to form the Paddlers Abreast team. The Yukon River Quest is the world's longest annual canoe and kayak race that begins in Whitehorse and continues day and night to end 57 hours and 26 minutes later (for the Paddlers Abreast team) in Dawson City. Except for two mandatory 3 hour breaks, the women paddle on non-stop. The women care for each other and have constructed a small platform that sits across the sides of the boat that allows them, one at a time, to catch a nap when they are too exhausted to paddle further. There is no need to stop for the night in this "land of the midnight sun." Captions that inform viewers of the time elapsed and the location would be more helpful if they were not cut off on the edges of the screen.
The story is told by a narrator who guides viewers along the river and tells us the history of these women, who are fighting to survive breast cancer, through flashbacks of personal interviews conducted with each of the women prior to the race. The women share their reactions of anger, denial, hope and determination to survive. They have a special mission given to them by a recent widower to "take Edith's ashes to a beautiful place on the river to 'release' her." Edith had made this same trip as one of the paddlers three years earlier, a sobering reminder that, though the boat goes every year, the paddlers change.
Betty Klassen teaches in the Faculty of Education in the Middle Years Program at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.