Text: Catherine Bernier
Q&A: Pier-Anne Rouleau

You may already know Catherine, maybe you’ve seen her on the water with her surfboard or perhaps you’ve read some of her BESIDE stories. Originally from Sainte-Flavie, at the crossroads of Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspésie, Catherine sees nature - and especially water - as a source of inspiration that keeps her connected. 

The Unscented Company had the chance to meet Catherine 4 years ago. Sweet, down-to-earth and with a strong sense of aesthetics and environmental awareness, you can see why it was love at first sight. Like us, she celebrates the privilege of belonging to nature and therefore believes that it is essential to live a lifestyle that better serves the planet.

We wanted to introduce her to you, not only for these reasons, but because she is the artist behind the new TUC wave that will now be found on our products. If you didn't know, the mountain on some of our labels is located in the Laurentians, so we really wanted to find THE Canadian wave that would pay tribute to our identity.

Learn more about Catherine, the story behind the new wave and get inspired by her vision and relationship with nature. 

Photo credit: Jill Cluet

Can you explain the origin of the new TUC wave?

From the moment Halina talked to me about this project, I spent a good year experimenting here and there with different angles and territories before I found that perfect wave that would really reflect what TUC is all about. I usually drag my camera along whenever I go surfing. One autumn evening, my boyfriend and I drove from Halifax to the South Shore to chase a hurricane swell that was taking place on the coast. In the wee hours of the morning we got up in the hope of surfing, but the wind was still too strong and the waves were gnarly, but oh so magnificent. The light, the atmosphere and the power of the ocean were all there, plus two motivated surfers who went for it. So I swapped my surfing session for a photo session. I had a sense that this time I’d capture the right one!

How would you describe your relationship with water and nature? 

I was privileged to grow up on the river and now have found a home facing the ocean in Nova Scotia. But beyond this proximity to the sea and its salty scent that I love so much, I believe above all that we all connect deeply to this water element. Physically, we are mainly composed of water and, if we go back to the beginnings of human evolution, we are marine microbes that just kept growing! We live on land but we can always return to the sea for a feeling of home, as we return to ourselves. 

Water is a fabric that binds us to the whole of the living world, the fluid that makes all life on earth possible. David Suzuki, in The Sacred Balance, said that we are the fruit of water, air, light and earth and that we are intrinsically interrelated, in an ingeniously woven ecosystem. It makes no sense to view nature and the human being as separate! That’s why I think self-care involves a greater sense of self: taking care of others and of nature. A philosophy that the first nations have embodied for thousands of years.

You refer to the fragility of water, is it your perspective as a surfer that reinforces your desire to protect it? 

When you’re out there among the waves, you really feel that you are part of the whole. You realise how powerful the pull of the ocean is, but also how sensitive the balance is, and that it can actually be disrupted by your own presence. It's a conflict that can be difficult to bear, but one that leads us to a firmer understanding of our collective responsibility in the equation. The good news is that the eco-anxiety we feel can be transformed into a powerful call to take action, and even repair the damage! The more time you spend in nature, the more you develop a sense of belonging and a desire to protect your living environments: your flora and fauna, but also your local communities.

How does your perspective as a surfer give you a different view of the world around us? 

For many other surfers, the ocean is an escape from society, the oppressive pressure of the workplace and the complexities of home. It is not surprising that so many surfers dedicate themselves to taking care of the planet. It’s such a healthy way, like all outdoor sports, to reconnect with our deeper selves, and to resolve the conflict of separation from nature that has crept into our societies over the last few centuries.

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 Photo credit: Catherine Bernier