It was a packed house at the 12th annual Skeena Wild Film and Photography Festival in the Terrace on Thursday, September 15 after taking a hiatus last year due to the pandemic.
The event featured a series of short films and photographs, including never-before-seen footage of a giant 140-foot Chinook Salmon art installation by Alex and Michelle Stoney of Gitanmaax.
Alex Stoney said he got the idea by walking along the river bank looking at little designs people make with sticks and stones in the sand.
“I think it would be nice if we could do something more with it and my sister is an artist so I thought it would be nice to see the indigenous form in there,” she said.
Alex and his sister made a series of driftwood Aboriginal art installations near New Hazelton and it became a community project. The idea was to show the cycle of time as the river rose and overtook the artwork each season.
The salmon took more than 50 people two days to complete, Michelle Stoney said.
“We have all the communities in the Hazelton area, Gitanmaax, Kispiox, New Town involved… People came from all over, like Terrace, Smithers and Burns Lake, all helping out together. So that was exciting,” he said.
“Last year the river came and took it when the river came up and it came full circle.”
Julia Hill Sorochan, of the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust who organizes the festival, said it’s about bringing people together to celebrate what they love about northern B.C.
The festival started 13 years ago as a group of friends got together and grew by word of mouth, becoming a popular place for Terrace artists to showcase their work and has since grown to include other northern communities.
“It’s about people telling their stories about the North. Whether it’s an adventure or an issue that’s important to them,” he said. “You’re seeing this broad cross-section of our community come together.”
Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach submitted a video of himself chatting with constituents during a canoe trip from Kispiox to Terrace this summer during the Skeena Salmon Art Festival.
Sorochan said the MP had to “keep it apolitical”, adding that the MP was inspired to compose the film when a young man performed a song he wrote called “take me to your river”.
There were about 30 finalists in all categories combined, including film and photography, which the public will be able to watch online and vote on once the festival completes its northern BC rounds.
“Every year we do a tour of all the northern communities, but this year we’re doing it a little differently and offering the opportunity for other local community-based organizations to host their own Skeena Wild Film Festivals in their community as a fundraising opportunity,” he said Sorochan.
“This incredible melting pot of stories, visions and perspectives shines a light on the wonder of the Skeena watershed.”
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