Following 'The Last Pilgrims' on a spiritual journey through Quebec
Since the rise of the Quiet Revolution and the collapse of the Catholic Church's influence over the lives of Quebecers, La Belle Province may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of a location for a pilgrimage.
But for thousands of devout Haitians, many places in Quebec are known for their close connection to God.
Their quest for the holy spirit intrigued Will Prosper, a police officer turned community activist.
"In a way they have to suffer," said Prosper. "The more they suffer in a certain way, when you deprive yourself from sleep from eating, you get closer to your goal of being a great pilgrim."
Prosper has many friends and family who join the hundreds, if not thousands, of religious Haitians as they converge on Notre Dame du Cap and Ste. Anne de Beaupre.
Despite his agnosticism, he decided to make a film, "The Last Pilgrims," about the journey.
Some of the pilgrims are seeking miracles, either for themselves or for others.
"They are doing it mainly because they are helping a brother or a sister and that's what we're lacking in society right now, that great value of helping each other," said Prosper.
Prosper was surprised by the constant level of prayer maintained by the pilgrims.
"When we were coming from New York to Montreal they prayed at midnight, and when we arrived at the border at six o'clock they were still praying and then when we got to Oratoire Saint Joseph, they were still praying!" said Prosper.
Black History Month Organizer Fabienne Colas said religious devotion is an aspect of black heritage that is often glossed over.
"That was like--oh really? People even do that? Thousands of Haitian people coming here just to pray. This is amazing," said Colas.
The film aired in Montreal this week as part of Black History Month festivities.