An ambitious idea, an inspiring story
Published Monday, May 6, 2019 11:30AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 6, 2019 6:11PM EDT
The idea was ambitious: take five students to a remote community in Northern Ontario, and using just enough equipment to fit into a single backpack, tell the story of how a solar project being built in KZA-Gull Bay First Nation aims to right a longstanding wrong that permanently scarred a community both emotionally and ecologically.
We developed a partnership with CTV to feature “from shore to sky: a reconciliation story,” and to create an extensive multimedia package for Canadians to explore.
We believe that the hard work towards fighting climate change in this community deserves to be highlighted and shared. The scope of the project is impressive, as is the genuine effort at reconciliation by Ontario Power Generation and several other partners. The impact of our reporting is meant to be positive by focusing on a strong example of climate leadership and reconciliation emerging from the North.
The documentary project was inspired by the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which calls upon Canadian journalism programs to require education for all students on Indigenous issues. Long-term, I hope to continue educating students by highlighting more examples of climate leadership from those who have been stewards of this land for thousands of years.
There are always logistical challenges when newsgathering, and our trip provided the perfect environment to investigate best practices for teaching mobile journalism. We traveled light, using one iPhone, a GoPro and a few DSLRs. In terms of time, there was zero flexibility in our schedule. While we slept in Thunder Bay - every morning we drove hours north on a road with no shoulders, no gas stations and no cell service, worked in a community without access to potable water or commercial food, and shot as efficiently as possible before the sun went down.
This project was approached from an academic perspective, and allowed me to respect the oral history traditions of the people of KZA-Gull Bay First Nation and to explore experiential teaching techniques at the same time. I am deeply grateful to Concordia University and to the Rossy Family Foundation for supporting this project and my research.
Each student rose to the challenge in ways I could never have expected. The people of KZA-Gull Bay First Nation received us with warmth, kindness and a truly open spirit. We believe the result is a story of finding solutions in our complicated world, of discovering reservoirs of resilience where it might not seem possible, and of looking to our collective future with hope.
Thank you for your interest.