A harrowing tale of survival on the shores of Isle Royale will be brought to the screen by local filmmaker Michelle Desrosier. During the winter of 1845-1846, Indigenous woman Angelique Mott and her husband were left for dead on a remote island off Isle Royale by copper miners. After her husband perished to hunger, Angelique managed to survive with small rations and survival prowess. Using James R. Stevens’ novella Angelique Abandoned, Desrosier is using the shores of Lake Superior to tell Angelique’s stunning story of persistence against natural, physical, and psychological odds.
Isle Royale is an island 72 km (45 mile) long, 14 km (9 mile) wide located in northwest Lake Superior, off the shores of Michigan. The Isle is the largest natural island in Lake Superior and surrounded by 450 smaller islands, which collectively make up Isle Royale National Park. Angelique and her husband were abandoned to the shore of one of these islands during the summer of 1845, and only Angelique managed to survive starvation and harsh natural elements until the spring of 1946. Angelique was only 17 when they were abandoned.
According to an article done by Emma Christensen at lakesuperiornews.com, Stevens first published his novella in 2009. After conducting interviews and research with Indigenous elders and artists, he wrote a fictionalized account of her story, basing it on accounts Angelique herself gave about her ordeal. The second edition of Angelique Abandoned features illustration by Cree Stevens, an Anishinabekwe (Ojibwe) and Cree artist located in Thunder Bay.
Desrosier adapted Angelique Abandoned into a screenplay. Her work won Best Screenplay at the 2015 Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards, and was awarded money from the inaugural CBC Breaking Barriers Film Fund. The film, titled Angelique’s Isle, is now in development by Thunderstone Pictures, co-produced by Circle Blue Films and supported by Telefilm Canada. A press release dated February 24th (retrieved from Lake Superior Art Gallery’s site) shows that the crew of Angelique’s Isle filmed winter scenes on the trails in and around Pumphouse Beach and Kevin’s Beach in Terrace Bay from March 1st-3rd. According to an article done by Christensen for The Walleye Magazine, filming will resume in Terrace Bay and at Fort William Historical Park this month.
As an Indigenous woman from Migisi Sahgaigan (Eagle Lake) First Nation, Desrosier felt particularly drawn to Angelique’s story and its parallels to issues Indigenous women face today. Desrosier tells Christensen that “There was something happening for me at the same time as listening, hearing and engaging in this process of murdered and missing Indigenous women. I also had this story of Angelique, and something was so compelling and it was holding on to me so strongly because I think she’s a reminder. She’s a reminder for me of how incredibly strong we are as women.”
The film is slated for a 2018 release date.
To find out more about Angelique’s Isle, visit Thunderstone Pictures.
To purchase a copy of Angelique Abandoned, to view the February 24th, 2017 Angelique’s Isle press release, and to access a copy of CBC’s article on Breaking Barriers Film Fund, visit Lake Superior Art Gallery.com.