Spirits in the Wilderness raw: #3

Raw footage for a documentary commissioned for the opening of the Shedd Aquarium's Oceanarium. Producer, director, and editor Judy Hoffman documents an aboriginal fisherman, Roy Cranmer, fighting to preserve the 'Namgis band's historic fishing grounds and land of origin while protecting the vibrant ecosystems and salmon populations that have sustained the Pacific Northwest Coast region for centuries. Also known by the anglicized name Nimpkish, the 'Namgis are part of the Kwakwaka'wakw (initially named the Kwakiut'l by Franz Boas) First Nation and have their homeland in what is now British Columbia, on the northern end of Vancouver Island. Hoffman has maintained a long relationship with the ‘Namgis band, having been adopted into the Cranmer family at the Cranmer potlatch in November 2017.

00:37Copy video clip URL A man by the name “Longo” talks on the phone.

01:32Copy video clip URL “Longo” speaks with Judy Hoffman about how salmon need to find cool water in the shade, the performance of a local indigenous run hatchery, and the dispute between indigenous tribes who want to claim their right to fish and the Canadian government’s refusal to open local waters for fishing. He describes how their season, which used to open in May, is now reduced to a few openings in August. While the government has cited concerns for salmon conservation, the First Nation fisherman argue that they have never depleted salmon populations with their regular extended fishing season. Longo explains the ‘Namgis band’s need to assert their indigenous fishing rights by wanting to force a fishing opening.

05:04Copy video clip URL “Longo” gives background to the recent conference call with other First Nation leaders. He lists the other bands involved in the discussion. The band has decided to go fishing, he says, and will exercise their aboriginal rights.

09:07Copy video clip URL Scenes around the administration office.

10:17Copy video clip URL Another conference call begins, with Bobby Duncan facilitating. Speaking over the phone, Duncan presses the call participants to avoid the term “protest fish” when talking to the news media, government officials, or other outside entities. Instead, the he calls for band leaders to assert their claim to fishing as part of their aboriginal rights. He also explains guidelines for indigenous fishers to follow in the event their actions are contested in a legal court.

15:11Copy video clip URL Longo clarifies the new date of the fishing opening. He questions how inclusive the fishing date is for for some fishers. Roy Cranmer listens in the background.

22:07Copy video clip URL Pat Alfred, elected Chief of the ‘Namgis band, joins Longo and  Cranmer. Cranmer argues to postpone the aboriginal fishing date by two days, but this raises conflict among those who want to fish as soon as possible to assert their aboriginal rights.

28:57Copy video clip URL Alfred speaks with Duncan, raising a counter argument for the idea of aboriginal fishing rights.



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