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Six men, three canoes, and two dogs journeyed deep into the far reaches of North American wilderness, exploring the incredible backcountry of the Peel Watershed, a region that faces significant environmental degradation from large-scale mining operations. Auckland-based zoologist-turned-director Simon Lucas and videographer Scott Sinton joined four Canadian friends for the two-month trip, documenting the pristine backwaters and shedding light on the beauty of the exceedingly remote region.
From “Kiwi backs First Nation tribes” in our August 2016, issue:
“…While Lucas was originally keen to document the need for environmental conservation and the harm humans are doing to the Peel watershed. But a few weeks into the trip, they found themselves on the shores of a First Nation homestead where they met a family that precipitated a sea change in their perspectives.
“I very much went there for conservation. For me, it was, ‘let’s protect this place because of the wilderness, the animals, the beautiful scenery’. I always viewed people as a negative,” Lucas explains.
“Meeting that family changed my whole mindset, seeing how incredible their culture is when they can get back on the land, and when you leave them alone, without Western influences.
“There’s ongoing land governance issues in the Northwest Territories, as the Canadian government is at odds with the Yukon First Nation tribes, whose aim is to protect the Peel region from damaging large-scale mining operations.
“I realised that there is a balance where people and nature can co-exist, and we can learn a lot about how we should view the land from native cultures,” Lucas says. “I think the power of the Peel watershed is not only the stunningly beautiful backdrops and thriving ecosystems, but also that people have lived in that environment for thousands of years and left very little impact.
“As much as the nature inspired me to want to protect it, the First Nation people and stories solidified that even more.”
The release of the film this year was timely; the issue is now being heard in the Canadian Supreme Court and more Canadians are learning of the conflict between First Nations and mining operators.”