• Canada
  • 90
  • STC
  • Nettie Wild

Nellie Wild’s overriding concern with the struggle for land and survival, established in A Rustling of Leaves, also underpins this film, but her focus shifts closer to home. A 22,000 square mile tract of land in northern British Columbia is the site of an explosive set of competing ownership claims. In 1984, the Gitskan people launched a land claim for the entire area, claiming it as unceded aboriginal territory. But since the 1880s, white settlers known to the Gitskan as the “visitors who never left”, have occupied land there, and their logging operations now maintain several small towns. Tensions rise as the land claim proceeds. The government acts illegally, selling disputed land as private property to new white settlers and depriving the Gitskan of traditional fishing sites. Wild documented the daily details of the escalating confrontation for 15 months, framing it as a struggle for environmental preservation, as well as a battle between two histories the oral history of traditional land use by the Gistkan, and the legal history of private property and ownership. When the B.C. courts finally reject the Gistkan historical claim as unreliable, the battle between histories boils over. David McIntosh

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