The first season of Dene A Journey took us on some very different trips throughout the north. We joined Mason Mantla and Joe Buffalo for some hunting and camping in the bush just a few hours north of Yellowknife, flew to Deline to tan a caribou hide with Leela Gilday, and embarked on a serious road trip with the Larsson sisters to attend the Midway Music Festival just south of Fort McPherson.
Given the opportunity to spend time in the bush, and with Elders and other members of the communities, our characters experienced solitude and a simpler life. Wi-Fi wasn’t a distraction. Thoughts of work and bills faded as each of them found focus in learning the task at hand. Chopping firewood. Setting up a fishnet. Learning how to bead, and learning the language of their ancestors.
The Dene A Journey crew’s job is to record all of these experiences, but in working behind the lens, our own personal journey also begins to unfold. We’re given a chance to learn from the Elders. Set up a canvas tent. Cook over a wood stove and sometimes even shoot a moose, or at least a chicken. As Amos put it, “there are so many amazing memories from working on the show, it’s so hard to pick just one” but here are a few highlights:
Pablo experienced the coldest day of his life working on Mason Mantla’s episode. When he got back to Yellowknife, he proceeded to spend 4 hours doing steam-room laps at the pool trying to warm up. During Leela Gilday’s episode, he saw his life flash before his eyes when he let Riel drive the quad.
Dave Kellett’s favourite episode to shoot was Mason Mantla’s, simply because “it was truest to the concept of the show and put the film crew and equipment to the cold weather test.” During that same shoot, Riel witnessed Behchoko Elder-Harry Apple chase a wolf on his ski-doo.
Jay only worked on one shoot during the first season, but the guy loves hunting and not only was he given the chance to be involved in a bison hunt, but he got to do it while filming his good buddies Amos and Riel.
Amos still has vivid memories of the caribou herds and the striking, mountainous landscape around Midway Lake while filming for Tania and Nina’s episode. “That area, it just felt really good.”
This project has provided opportunities and the experience of a lifetime, not only to the characters featured in the show, but to everyone making it as well. We come home after every trip with exciting/scary/funny stories that we’ll remember forever, and having grown from new lessons learned and new knowledge of our land and our people that we will continue to pay forward.
Everyone at Dene A Journey is so excited to be able to share with you all of our experiences on Season 2, coming soon!