The members of the band Qualité Motel on a boat

Connecting Canadians

Setting sail on the St. Lawrence with a series of sustainable concerts

Nov 17, 2021

(ABOVE) Working with key partners, including TELUS, Qualité Motel (pictured here) set sail with a plan to perform free concerts while meeting three main goals: limiting greenhouse gas emissions, organizing coastal clean-up events, and encouraging consumers to shop locally. PHOTO: Marie-France L’Ecuyer

Luis Clavis, a percussionist, singer and songwriter for the band Qualité Motel, has long been fascinated by the St. Lawrence River. Not only for its rich plant and animal life, but also for the way this iconic waterway has shaped history over the centuries. 

The river is also what inspired Qualité Motel, an electro-based side project of Misteur Valaire, to create La Virée du Saint-Laurent, a series of eight environmentally friendly concerts aboard a sailboat. As a result, Eastern Quebec’s most beautiful natural settings, like the Parc National du Bic and the beach at Pointe-de-Moisie, became the backdrops for a special series of free, intimate, and truly unique concerts.

“La Virée du Saint-Laurent was an opportunity to share our music with different Quebec regions, while also highlighting the beauty of our wonderful province,” says Clavis. 

Working with key partners, including TELUS, Bonjour Québec and dozens of local food and drink producers, including local microbreweries and distilleries, Qualité Motel set sail with a plan to perform free concerts while meeting three main goals: limiting greenhouse gas emissions, organizing coastal clean-up events, and encouraging people to shop locally. 

Members of Qualité Motel posing in front of a large rock on a beach

With La Virée du Saint-Laurent, the members of Qualité Motel took the time to appreciate Quebec’s natural beauty – including a visit to the Mingan Archipelago National Park and its limestone giants that look like visitors from another world. PHOTO: Marie-France L’Ecuyer

Through rain, wind and wild weather 

Travelling on a sailboat means putting yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature, and accepting that you’ll have to do things a little differently than you would on land. It’s a time to set strict schedules aside, opting instead for an approach that adapts to the ever-changing shoreline, currents and weather.

Out on the water, things can change in the blink of an eye – a reality that the members of Qualité Motel experienced for themselves when they passed through the tail of Hurricane Ida. In the middle of the night, they ran head-on into high waves and 30-knot winds. Some members of the crew had a rough time of it, but they were later rewarded with a view of the islands off Sept-Îles – one of Quebec’s best-kept secrets, according to Clavis.

“La Virée was an opportunity to take the time to appreciate Quebec’s natural beauty,” he says.

Aerial view of land and sea

Qualité Motel was treated to a magnificent view of the Sept-Îles’ island after passing through the tail of Hurricane Ida in the middle of the night. PHOTO : Marie-France L’Ecuyer

To stay on top of the complex logistics of the trip, band members relied on the TELUS 5G and LTE networks, allowing them to stay in touch with their many sponsors in real time, continue to promote the tour, and use a variety of online navigation tools to stay on track.

“The logistical side of La Virée was held together by a lot of little threads. The tour was indeed a series of little things, but when you combine a lot of little things, that’s how you change the world,” says Clavis.

Person standing at the shoreline, talking on a mobile device

The TELUS 5G and LTE networks, which covers 99 percent of Quebec’s population, enabled Clavis and the other members of Qualité Motel to manage the complex logistics of their sailboat tour from the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. PHOTO: Julien Harbec

Taking back the land 

It was critical to the mission that the partners and sponsors who signed on for La Virée all share the same environmental values as the band, and committed to make a positive contribution to the tour.  For example, TELUS embraces a commitment to raise the profile of Quebec artists, and is actively working to achieve ambitious sustainability goals, including becoming carbon-neutral and zero-waste by 2030. Sustainability is deeply embedded in TELUS’ core business strategy, and the company has set science-based GHG emissions reduction targets approved by STBi (Science Based Targets initiative), which are consistent with the reductions required to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

TELUS also made a $10,000 donation to the Blue Organization to organize five coastal cleanups during the tour. In total, more than 1,000 kgs of trash and microplastic were picked up along the shores by 170 volunteers. 

“The river brings people together and, for us, there’s nothing more gratifying than having helped to start conversations about the environment and the importance of protecting our natural resources. That’s our biggest success, and that’s also what the coastal cleanups helped to achieve: increased awareness,” says Clavis.

Volunteers in TELUS shirts cleaning up trash on the beach

Thanks to a $10,000 donation from TELUS to the Blue Organization, along with help from 170 volunteers, more than 1,000 kgs of trash was picked up along the shores of the St. Lawrence. PHOTO: The Blue Organization

Reflecting on the tour, Clavis says it has helped him to realize how important the river is to Quebec, and its people. 

“The crowd at each of our shows had its own unique personality, because every region and every person experiences the river differently. Not only is the river the source of our history, but it also helps to define who we are and it reflects our collective personality.”

To protect what we love and help preserve the environment of the St. Lawrence River, support the Blue Organization.