Fractured Land | Review

A successful documentary achieves one very important thing: it inspires its audience to look deeper into an issue and, if possible, to take some kind of action in support of its cause.

Fractured Land, a film by Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis about a young man’s drive to protect his Nation’s territory, is successful in that respect. It has inspired people around the world to become more informed about the ongoing damage inflicted by the oil and gas industry in northern BC. Factured Land insists our attention be given to the environmental devastation caused by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), an invasive and toxic method energy companies use to drill for resources like natural gas. No single film can be utterly exhaustive, of course, but it can be extremely well researched and thorough in reporting of its case. On that level, the film delivers its point cogently and effectively.

Factured Land does, however, have an equally important point to make about a critical and often overlooked reality: our country’s First Nations are indispensable advocates in the fight to prevent catastrophic environmental damage caused by the resource industry. At the centre of the film is Caleb Behn, a member of the Cree and Dene First Nations. His cultural heritage is inextricably linked to the land he lives on, the land of his elders and grandparents. Caleb perceives his land as sacrosanct, at least as far as big industry is concerned, and he’s compelled to go to law school to forge the weapons he needs to fight for his people’s right to live peaceable, healthy, prosperous lives on their territory.

During Caleb’s growth as an activist and global citizen, one thing becomes abundantly clear: treaties forged by the Canadian government with First Nations, some going back more than 100 years, are powerful legal leverage points in the fight to protect First Nations’ (and Canada’s) territories. Consultation with First Nations is required by law when introducing new and potentially destructive industrial operations on First Nation’s land. But there’s a problem, the treaty process in BC and Canada is deeply flawed and extremely costly. The resources needed to steer a claim through the extisting treaty process are prohibitively expensive. So modern day warriors like Caleb, part of a new generation of Aboriginal Canadians and global citizens, are taking up the fight for themselves. They are the inspiring and iconic leaders of tomorrow, the stewards of our planet who may be able to achieve what we can’t do alone.

And so Fractured Land does two things: it jolts us with a powerful current of remorse for how we’re allowing corporations to poison our land, our earth. And it announces the arrival of a new kind of leader: young, bright, and inspired Aboriginal people who are guiding us to a more peaceful existence with our planet. It’s required watching for concerned citizens everywhere.


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