Juliana Léveillé-Trudel


Photo: Alain Léveillé


A 2008 graduate of UQÀM’s Animation and Cultural Research program, Juliana Léveillé-Trudel has led numerous projects in the fields of education, cultural mediation and literature.

In 2011, she set up a day camp for children in the Inuit community of Salluit, Nunavik, which she ran for four years. This experience inspired her to write her first novel, Nirliit, published by Peuplade in the fall of 2015. Critically and publicly acclaimed, the book was published in English by Vehicule Press in 2018 and translated into Icelandic in 2019 and into Spanish in 2020. Des traductions en danois et en basque sont à venir en 2021.

In 2017, Juliana created a literary show based on Nirliit that was presented throughout Quebec, including at the Maison de la littérature de Québec and the Festival international de littérature de Montréal. Nirliit has been distributed in French-speaking Europe since fall 2018. Since its publication, Juliana has taken part in literary events in Cuba, Finland, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Mexico.

Juliana is also a children’s author. She co-wrote the book Comment attraper un ours qui aime lire, published by Chouette in 2018, and has done numerous mediation activities in schools. Her second title for children, Voyage de nuit à la bibli, will be released in the fall of 2021. Also a translator, she signed the translation of Contre le colonialisme dopé aux stéroïdes, by Inuit activist Zebedee Nungak, published by Boréal in 2018.

Originally interested in oral literature, Juliana Léveillé-Trudel practices playwriting and founded the Théâtre de brousse in 2011. She performed and directed two of her plays, Partis à l’ouest and La contestation expliquée aux enfants, which was a finalist for the Most Promising Francophone Play Award at the 2013 Fringe Festival. In 2018, the Théâtre became an NPO and was renamed Productions de brousse. Its mandate is to create plays and literary performances with a special focus on language. The Productions de brousse promotes the works produced, particularly outside of traditional performance venues, and organize meetings with the public through cultural mediation activities.

Juliana is the artistic and general director of Les Productions de brousse. She directs Enfabulation, a storytelling show that invites people, professionals and non-professionals alike, to tell a true story that they themselves have experienced, without notes, costumes or props. The concept has been a great success and is now in its fourth season.

« I am writing a play that takes a critical look at the management of Quebec’s architectural heritage and the way urban development is conceived throughout the province. With this in mind, I am investigating the construction of the new Windsor Town Hall in the Eastern Townships in 2014 in order to draw from reality to inform the creation of this work of fiction. I grew up in the Eastern Townships in the small village of Kingsbury, located about 15 km from Windsor. I know this town well, having completed my high school education there (grades 4 and 5 were not offered at our village school) and having participated in many activities there. I have friends who are from there and I have many memories associated with that place. Windsor is an old industrial town, not particularly pretty, but it has a certain charm: two rivers (St. Francis and Watopeka) and heritage buildings, notably the old powder keg, now a museum. However, unfortunately, it is the target of real estate developers who do not care about the preservation of its historical character, the harmony between the landscape and the buildings, nor the importance of carrying out a reflection on the desired urbanism for the city, all without opposition from the municipality. The new construction, in my opinion, is an architectural disaster. Moreover, it is located at the very entrance of the city and stands out in the landscape that surrounds it, which is a beautiful valley that descends to the river before going up along the main artery. I now live in Montreal, and although I go back to my home area very often, where our family still has a house, I had not had the opportunity to go to Windsor for many years. Some time ago, I had to go there to meet the cultural development officer of the MRC. I felt shock, anger and sadness at what I saw as a city disfigured by this new building complex. Since I was very young, I have been particularly sensitive to the protection of the environment and the search for harmony between humans and nature. My mother militated for the protection of the environment by advocating degrowth and recovery thirty years before anyone else. When I was nine months old, we moved from Montreal to Kingsbury, in the bucolic Eastern Townships, which became, over time, a sort of refuge for my mother, a shelter from the excesses of development. After the 1998 ice storm, when I was 12 years old, Hydro-Quebec announced the construction of a 735-kilovolt high-voltage line between the Hertel substation in Montérégie and the Des Cantons substation in the Eastern Townships, in order to secure the electrical transmission network for a possible second ice storm. Lucien Bouchard’s government adopted a series of decrees to authorize the construction of the line without holding public consultations and without conducting environmental impact studies. Two hundred owners were expropriated, including 50 in the Val Saint-François, our adopted region. Development had caught up with my mother. My parents were deeply involved in the citizen’s movement that opposed the government and Hydro-Québec, but the line was built anyway. Their struggle marked my youth and since then, the destruction of nature and beauty has been a deep wound for me. In a way, this struggle hastened the end of my childhood. Anger and despair overcame my mother, and our family life became very different. The years of innocence, peaceful happiness and harmony with nature were now behind us. Over the past year, I have met with various stakeholders involved in the new Windsor commercial complex project (municipal officials, developers, citizens). I tried to understand the point of view of business people and elected officials in agreement with the project. I compared their comments with those of people who are opposed to it, notably the Héritage Val Saint-François group. In the course of my research, I also sought to understand what motivates people who get involved and fight, as my parents did, at the risk of alienating the economic elite in their respective cities. Have they had similar experiences to my family? The result of this investigation began to take shape in a play that borrows some elements from the documentary. My text alternates the past and the present and puts in parallel these two citizen struggles. From the beginning of my writing process, I was very interested in the story of my mother (who died of cancer in 2007) and my grandmother, originally from Val-Brillant, in the Matapedia Valley. My text deals with filiation and seeks to go back to the origins of this revolt which smolders in my maternal family. As part of my research, I was hosted in Carleton-sur-mer for a ten-day residency in September 2020. I took the opportunity to travel through the Matapedia Valley and get to know this region about which my grandmother, now 95 years old, told me a lot. In discussions with her, I understood that she still felt a great deal of anger at having had to abandon her studies when her parents died, because Doria, her older sister, having chosen to become a nun, refused to delay her entry into the convent in order to care for her. Paradoxically, Doria devoted her life to education, teaching girls in the local schools around Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, later founding the polyvalente in that city. Moreover, my great-aunt Doria ended her days in the convent of Rimouski, where my grandmother visited her regularly. Together, they were frequent visitors to the Jardins de Métis, which they particularly liked. Finishing my play there would be particularly symbolic and inspiring, and would give me the opportunity to continue my research on my family history, as my great-grandfather was a native of Rivière-Blanche (now Saint-Ulric), which would certainly enrich my text. Also, my project has a strong focus on strong, forward-thinking female figures, and I think it would be interesting to find a way to incorporate Elsie Reford, who was an inspiration to my grandmother. »