For most of us, native land claims and logging issues fuel political and moral debates. To the people of the Gitksan reserve of Gitwangak and the white village of Kitawanga, they are bread- and-butter issues worth fighting for.
BLOCKADE takes place in the mountains and valleys of northern British Columbia, at the heart of the boldest aboriginal land claims case to challenge the white history of Canada. The Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs claim that everything within 22,000 square miles, including the trees, is rightfully theirs. A lot of white people don’t agree.
The Hobenshields are the sons of white settlers. After 60 years of logging and living in the valley, they figure they are about as native to this part of the country as you can get.
Art Loring is a Gitksan, a wing chief of the Eagle clan. For 17 years he was a logger. Now he’s blockading the Hobenshield brothers’ logging crews from cutting trees on the Eagle’s hereditary lands.
Down river, a white couple are building their retirement home on the banks of the Skeena. Thirty members of the Frog clan confront the family, evicting them from what the Gitksan consider to be their traditional fishing site.
In the final scene of BLOCKADE, the Gitksan try to force the government to the negotiating table. They blockade the economy of northern British Columbia – they blockade the Canadian National Railway, halting all shipments of coal, grain, and lumber to the coast.
The environment is the final bargaining chip in this story, as BLOCKADE follows natives and whites fighting for the clearest manifestation of self-determination: control of the land. This hardball, northern style, dramatically played out in logging towns and native villages across Canada, and in boardrooms and stock markets around the world.