'Scattering of Man' details horrors experienced by First Nation after B.C. Hydro dam flood
TORONTO -- A new documentary called the ‘Scattering of Man’ details the horrors experienced by the Tsay Keh Dene Nation before and after a flood caused by the W.A.C. Bennett Dam in B.C. in the 1960s.
“For years and years it was a hidden story, and there’s a lot of hidden history in this country,” filmmaker Luke Gleeson said on CTV News Channel Saturday. “We had seen the history of this [story] told through [B.C.] Hydro and other people, but it’s really an unknown history and our people were finally ready to tell our story.”
Gleeson said he brought the idea of the documentary to Tsay Keh Dene Nation and wanted to move the film ahead as there had been attempts from people in the past to make short films on the subject - but now “people were really ready to tell our story.”
Leadership approved the film and the documentary is fully funded by the Nation, Gleeson said.
“It’s a completely independent First Nation film,” he continued. “It took us a number of years, but we got there.”
The Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha First Nations filed lawsuits against the province of B.C. in 1999 and 2001 respectively, claiming damages from the impact of the construction and operation of the Bennet Dam and the Williston Resevoir.
Gleeson said the dam and the flood are still impacting the Tsay Keh Dene Nation to this day.
“From the flood there, our people were forcibly relocated outside of the Nation,” he said, adding that members of the Nation eventually moved back to parts of the territory. “And then the government called us squatters for 20 years.”
“Our people lived very much hidden from the real history, so we made a deal with the government to build a modern community and have reserves reallocated to us…it wasn’t until the '90s we got the modern community, but it wasn’t until 30 years later they actually went into action and reallocated that land,” Gleeson said.
The Tsay Keh Dene Nation live with “ongoing major impacts” from the ordeal, Gleeson said, citing the water reservoir, dust storms and debris from the dam and the flood. In the lawsuits filed, the First Nations listed impacts including dislocation of community member, lost hunting, trapping and fishing areas, as well as traditional gathering sites and burial grounds.
Gleeson said he wants viewers to take away what they will from it, but especially the “strength and dignity of the Tsay Keh Dene people, and the spirit to persevere,” he said. “To me, I really want people to see the beauty of our country and the spirit of our people.”
The film will have its first in-person screening on Oct. 25 at the Paradise Theatre in Toronto, Ont.