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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
01 Apr 2015

Quebec/New Brunswick, Canada

Since the 1980's, Quebec has stopped at nothing to become the world's dominant supplier of maple syrup. The industry, which was once a past time for farmers, is now worth almost $500 million, with Quebec controlling the lion's share of the reserves. To ward off competition and ensure consistent supply and pricing, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has morphed into a government-sanctioned cartel. It chases after producers who don't play by the rules, and is even known to initiate cross provincial border raids. It stockpiles syrup inside its 'Global Strategic Reserve', where it stores more than 68 million pounds of the liquid gold. Pound for pound, a single barrel of syrup is worth 25 times a barrel of crude oil.

A theft at the Federation's warehouse in 2012 saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. While the perpetrators remain unkown, the federation has accused producers and distributors who oppose them of the heist and have gone as far as using their power to raid the warehouses of some of them.

While the American market heats up and erodes the market share, (buoyed by the consistently high prices set by the Federation), Quebec is willing to do whatever it takes to reign supreme. 

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 01
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Simone Vezina is reflected in a new batch of maple syrup. Starting clear, the boiling process gives it the distinct golden color. With 7,000 taps, she can produce 35 barrels per year, worth almost $60,000.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 03
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St-Pierre shows the color grading and sugar content of maple syrup in his warehouse. After the theft of syrup, he was suspected by the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 04
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St-Pierre runs SK Export, a production and brokerage facility in New Brunswick. He is the main buyer for Quebec producers who want to avoid the Federation. He is also the main enemy of the Federation and he has numerous legal cases pending that were brought on by the Federation.

Etienne St-Pierre argues that because he has a federal permit, he should be able to buy and sell to whomever he chooses.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 05
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A 2012 theft at the Federations warehouse saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. Days later, the Federation launched a cross provincial raid on St-Pierre's warehouse stealing syrup, forklifts, and other equipment. The Federation accused him of being behind the theft and St-Pierre is currently under an ongoing investigation.

Pierre has maintained his innocence and feels the Federation used the theft as a convenient pre-text for cracking down on producers and distributors who oppose them.

"I won't stop until I can get my syrup back," says St-Pierre.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 07
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Horse-drawn carts and farm animals are a staple of many sugar shacks.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 14
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Guests dine at Simone Vezina's sugar shacks. Sugar shacks are becoming increasingly popular for corporate retreats and day trips.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 16
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Starting clear, the boiling process removes the water and gives the syrup its distinct golden color.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 17
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A worker at Simone Vezina's sugar shack rests while guests in the other room eat.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 18
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St. Pierre examines syrup samples. The color is graded from light to dark, with the darkest often used for large scale industrial purposes, like maple flavoring.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 19
Saint Quentin
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A large maple leaf sculpture greets visitors to Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick. The town also holds an annual maple festival to usher in the beginning of the sap harvest.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 02
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
30 Mar 2015

Buckets hang off maple trees as a taps hammered into the trees drip sap, which will be used to map syrup. Buckets attached to trees are becoming increasingly rare, as producers opted for vacuum tubes with much higher yields.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 06
Quebec City
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Quebec's cold winter has delayed the start of the syrup season for more than a month. Because climate change will cause more dramatic season fluctuations, a stockpile of syrup can will benefit the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 08
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Vacuum tubes on Angele Grenier's property. The trees will produce between 45-50 barrels, each 400 pounds.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 09
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Vacuum tubes weave through the forest on Angele Grenier's property. To fuel her boiler, Grenier will use 40 cords worth of wood.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 10
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

"I want the freedom to sell my syrup wherever I want," says a defiant Angele Grenier. She has been selling her syrup in New Brunswick to avoid the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 11
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Angele Grenier surveys the tubing that carries maple sap from the trees to collection barrels. There are more than two miles of tubing on her property.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 12
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Pike, Tommy Brochu's dog, sniffs at the converted freezer that holds the pumps.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 13
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Tommy Brochu checks his vacuum pumps days before the season begins. He has harvested maple syrup for the last 4 years and sells through the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 20
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Discarded barrels that may have been recovered from a massive theft at the federation warehouse in 2012. The theft saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. The perpetrators remain unknown, but various producers and distributors opposed to the Federation in general have been accused and harassed by the federation over the incident.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 21
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Inspectors contracted by the Federation of Quebec Maple syrup producers inspect samples drawn from barrels in the Federation's Global Strategic Reserve.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 22
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

The Global Strategic Reserve in Laurierville holds more than 62,800 barrels. Split between two facilities, the total reserve is 68 million pounds of syrup.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 23
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

The Global Strategic Reserve in Laurierville holds more than 62,800 barrels. Split between two facilities, the total reserve is 68 million pounds of syrup.

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A Biodiversity Odyssey (EN)
Worldwide
By Conteur d'images
06 Mar 2015

To celebrate the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020, an environmentalist and a photojournalist visited 10 countries in 300 days in order to discover the most innovative solutions implemented by the peoples of the world to preserve the biodiversity of our planet. A fabulous educational journey through the Amazon, the Arabian desert, the Andes, the Pacific Ocean and more!

TEXTLESS, NATURAL SOUND VERSION / CONFORMED DIALOGUES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.

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Reviving Canada's Legendary Fur Industry
Canada
By Leyland Cecco
30 Jan 2015

The original currency of Canada, wild fur, is back. Pushed to the shadows for nearly three decades as effective animal welfare movements stigmatized the use of fur for fashion, massive appetite in China has revived the industry. Over the last seven years, Canada has seen a large increase in the foreign demand for both farmed and wild fur pelts. Sales in 2013 exceeded $950 million, a sharp increase. While there is international interest in pelts, economic uncertainty in Russia has resulted in near-total dominance of Chinese buyers at recent auctions. Roughly 90% of wild fur is sold to foreign buyers.

These images trace the movement of fur, from the forest to auction, and then to manufacturing and fashion. There are an estimated 60,000 trappers across Canada who supply pelts to auction. Marten, fisher, mink, coyote, beaver and fox are sold at the world's largest fur auction in Toronto.

At fur stores in Toronto, designers use the material to produce coats worth thousands of dollars. While the number of shops specializing in both design and manufacturing has declined, those still in business can produce items commanding hefty sums. 

While animal rights activists continue to campaign against the use of traps, much of the industry is now heavily regulated by both the federal and provincial governments. Old traps, which often caused animals to struggle, have been phased out, and the majority of trappers now use 'kill traps', which induce death within seconds. While leghold traps are used primarily for larger predators, they are no longer able to pierce the skin of the animal, resulting in reduced suffering. However, not all trappers agree on the use of these traps, highlighting an evolving view on animal treatment within the trapping community. 

There are also concerns that the number of animals being harvested isn't being recorded. While trappers are required to submit numbers each year, the termination of a national Wildlife Pelt Census means the data is often lost in a sea of bureaucracy. 

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 22
By Luc Forsyth
09 Aug 2013

The planters celebrate around a camp fire after planting their last trees of the season.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 21
By Luc Forsyth
09 Aug 2013

A forman smokes around a fire on one of the camp's nights off. Towards the end of each planting season mental and physical exhaustion sets in.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 13
By Luc Forsyth
28 Jul 2013

Tree planters wait to be picked up after a muddy walk. Tree planters work in all weather conditions, and the job is one of the most mentailly and physically exhausting jobs a young person can have.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 03
Fort McMurray, Canada
By Luc Forsyth
17 Jul 2013

A crew of tree planters walks along a logging access road during a 4km hike to their designated replanting area. As there is no road access from the outside world, a long walk is common before a day of planting can begin.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 05
By Luc Forsyth
06 Jul 2013

A tree planter works an especially good piece of land and will go on to make over $700 in one day. As the season progresses and planters will push themselves to make as much money as possible before the contract finishes. Alberta, Canada, 2013. Part of a larger story documenting a four month tree planting season in Northern Alberta.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 06
By Luc Forsyth
24 Jun 2013

A planter struggles through knee-deep mud. Though this block shoud be a planter's dream (open with soft ground), heavy rains have made it treacherous.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 11
By Luc Forsyth
24 Jun 2013

A planter pauses between bag-ups under a light rain. Planters work in all weather conditions - rain, snow, and hail - and dealing with the elements can be one of the hardest challenges for an inexperienced planter to cope with.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 20
By Luc Forsyth
24 Jun 2013

A tree planter works along a ridgeline on a rainy day on the Canadian oil sands.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 12
By Luc Forsyth
12 Jun 2013

A planter stands in the flooded entrance to the camp, contemplating the best way to drain the water. Heavy rains can trapp the planter's vehicles in the camp and only heavy duty 4x4 trucks are able to get out.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 16
By Luc Forsyth
04 Jun 2013

Foremen use the camp toilets on a day off. With up to 60 people living in a tree planting camp, privacy is often a scarce commodity.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 14
By Luc Forsyth
04 Jun 2013

Tree planters wait to be flown out of camp for a day off. Waiting is a part of everyday life for treeplanters who often have no control over schedules or transportation.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 18
By Luc Forsyth
04 Jun 2013

A foreman's legs are covered in dirt and charcoal after a day of work. Planters typically shower only once a week, when the camp heads to the closest town for a day off.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 19
By Luc Forsyth
01 Jun 2013

A member of the camp's management team pauses from the constuction of a food storage tent to play with a dog. Each time the camp moves, new facilities, such as fuel caches, toilets, and waste water storage pits must be rebuilt.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada 17
By Luc Forsyth
30 May 2013

Planters pick thorns out of eachother's hands at the end of a work day. With no showers or access to running water, staying clean and preventing infection can be a constant challenge.