The project is called Seasonal Life. Through the medium of photos and video, Rodolphe Poulin immerses viewers into the daily lives of migrant workers, whose labour plays an important role in Quebec’s agriculture industry. This year approximately 8,000 seasonal migrant workers will leave their families and countries behind to participate in the harvest packaging of a variety of vegetables, Poulin says. Here, Poulin explains how these workers are transforming the traditional image of rural Quebec.
How did you get started on this project?
My project partner and I were aware of this issue for many years, however three years ago we decided to explore it a little deeper when a Quebec magazine asked us to produce an article. For this occasion we spent many days in the fields with those workers. We heard a lot of nice and sad stories and we decided to explore further and to work on a bigger project.
How has photographing this project affected you?
Most of the workers are well treated, however they live in precariousness and they make big sacrifices for their family so they can get out of poverty in their country. It's always touching to listen to their stories. We don't realize in Quebec and Canada what it takes to get fresh vegetables to the grocery store everyday.
What was your goal upon embarking on this project?
Beyond showing the reality of these workers, we would like to open the discussion about this issue. As consumer there are some moral issues we need to address. Is it ethical to import our workforce just as we do for our goods because it's cheaper? Nobody in Canada wants to do that job at the minimum wage. They work 10 to 15 hours day, 6 to 7 days a week. They are ready to do it mostly because they live in poor countries and are poor themselves. This is not a simple question and our goal is not to judge, but at least to raise awareness about that issue and to give the opportunity to know more about it.
What's next for you?
We're still working on the project. Currently we have an exhibition that takes place in Montreal at the Concordia University. We are also working on a web documentary with TV5 channel. You will see the result next October!
Check out Poulin’s portforlio, and follow the photographic work of