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Alumni News

Wild Archiology sept 2016

New documentary traces indigenous history

September 26, 2016

For two summers, Tracy German and a small film crew hiked into the coastal mountain ranges of British Columbia, explored the depths of the Central B.C. Coast and Lake Huron, trekked high into the Arctic, and combed the east coast of Labrador to uncover the ancient history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The resulting documentary series, Wild Archaeology, takes viewers along for the journey. The 13-part series airs across Canada this fall on APTN. It follows Indigenous archaeologist Rudy Reimer and co-hosts Jenifer Brousseau and Jacob Pratt (pictured) across Canada to discover the stories of North America’s original peoples.

Of Aboriginal descent, lead writer, director and producer German began the project as a way to explore her own heritage. “My maternal side has Indigenous ancestry, but I didn’t grow up with the traditions or culture and was curious to find out more,” she says.

To share history with audiences across the country, the 1995 Media Arts grad credits her camera and sound crew, post production team and co-producers, almost all of whom are also Sheridan alumni. “Our production manager got us into some pretty extreme places,” she says. “You need a big team to do something like this.”

Her crew also helped her overcome some unique geographical challenges. In the Northwest Territories, for example, an electric wire perimeter surrounded their camp to keep polar bears at bay. In the mountains outside Whistler, B.C., the crew donned backpacks and lugged food, camping gear and all their cameras and filming equipment up the side of a mountain. Once they arrived in a settlement, German and the crew worked hard to build relationships with the people living there so they would share parts of their oral history to help them understand the archaeological discoveries, such as volcanic glass on the B.C. coast.

“Every place we go tells the story of a particular indigenous population and how it survived,” she explains. “Everywhere we went we needed people to embrace our work and let us in and show us the beauty of their particular world.”

German, who also teaches part time in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Film and Television program, says the time is right for Canadians to enjoy the series. She believes Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s investigation into residential schools and the Idle No More movement in support of Indigenous rights have made Canadians receptive to learning more about Aboriginal history.

“We went to communities you can only get to by airplane or boat, communities that want to share their experience,” she says. “They want people to care about their existence. We have an amazing country … it’s important to acknowledge where we are right now and see it through the long lens of history.”