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Witsuwit'en film wins $50K documentary award

YINTAH has won the $50,000 Rogers Audience Award for best Canadian documentary at the Hot Docs film festival
Screen shot from "YINTAH" a documentary about Witsuwit'en resistance to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which won the audience award from the Hot Docs Festival in May.

YINTAH, a film about the decade-long Witsuwit'en resistance to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project on their ancestral land has won the $50,000 Rogers Audience Award for best Canadian documentary at the Hot Docs film festival.    

Just two months after the award-winning moment, on July 3, Chief Dtsa’hyl (Adam Gagnon), whose role in the resistance is documented in the film, was sentenced to serve a 60-day sentence under house arrest for criminal contempt of court, after impeding construction of the pipeline in October 2021.   

Jennifer Wickham, producer and co-director of YINTAH was present at his sentencing this week.  

“He is a relative of ours and has always been supportive of everything. It is intense,” Wickham said.  

Wickham was one of the many people who felt the need to tell this story to a wider audience.  

“There was over 10 years of footage, [which was] over 1,000 hours and we got [the documentary] down to two hours and five minutes,” she said.  

Being recognized for the award brought Wickham to tears.  

“I knew from being at Hot Docs there were positive reactions from the audience at all the screenings," she said. "This [documentary] was a labour of love and this for our community and our future generations.”  

Originally a high school teacher, Wickham wanted to take on the challenge of documenting the struggle and highlighting its importance.  

“I became more confident in my skills and my knowledge around storytelling. Being informed by my identity as a Witsuwit'en woman... was a huge benefit and it was beneficial not having experience in the film industry,” she said.  

In the fall, CBC will be broadcasting YINTAH on its newsmagazine program The Passionate Eye.  

About the Author: Emma Bolzner

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