Clark Ferguson- See director BIO
I am a Saskatchewan-born Quebec-based filmmaker, Camera Operator and artist. My work discusses larger, complex societal issues surrounding the politics of 'place' through a local or community perspective. In doing so, my work empowers that 'local' voice and gives an emotive sense of urgency to the issues at play - whether it be concerns regarding environment, geopolitics, or the erosion of that local culture through new or existing modern pressures. My filmography includes many short fiction and doc works that have screened festivals internationally.
My interest in Giant Mine began in 2011 with an invitation to present a film at the Yellowknife International Film Festival. Yellowknife, it must be noted, was a city built to service both Giant Mine and Con mine, two enormous gold mines built in the 1930s on the Yellowknife Bay - traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The mines had been so much a part of the city of Yellowknife's culture and history that they were and still are actually both in the Yellowknife city limits. In fact, it could be argued that the city of Yellowknife was born out of these two mines. At the time of my arrival, the remediation plan for Giant Mine was to freeze 237,000 tons of arsenic trioxide underground, forever - a plan that none of the cultural groups on the Yellowknife Bay were interested in. Giant Mine was already infamous for the bitter labour issues of the 1990s and for the murder of 9 miners who were killed by a bomb placed in one of Giant's many tunnels. The labour issue and subsequent murders made Giant Mine an extremely sensitive subject for those in the community and many had been unwilling to on the subject due to this bitterness. So much so, that people were reluctant to talk about the mine altogether and this bitterness traveled down family lines a generation later. The dispute was fodder for made for TV movies and has been well covered in the Canadian media for the past twenty years. However, this particular history, I felt, was soon to be usurped by its environmental legacy. In fact, I realized that the labour dispute created a fatigue within Canadian media and within the community itself. The emotional dispute suppressed a much larger issue: One of the most contaminated sites in the world and an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
In 2012, working with Western Arctic Motion Pictures and producer Clark Ferguson, I was invited as the artist in residence through a Canada Council of the arts project. The purpose of the residency was to develop a community based interactive web project focusing on the social impacts of contaminated sites around northern communities - focusing specifically on Giant Mine. When I arrived, the remediation project was focused on community engagement and was presenting how they were going to stabilize the mine site. The remediation project was undergoing an environmental review and all the stakeholders in the area were present outlining concerns going forward with the project. Our team spent three months developing, writing, and interviewing community members for the project and I returned two times thereafter for further development and interviews. After spending months developing the interactive website with Paige Saunders of SOS New Media, working with animators in creating the community member's 're-imagined ideas' for Giant Mine, and editing together the story as a series of short films, Shadow of a Giant was ready for release. Shadow of a Giant, the short doc, is ready for festival release summer 2015.