New season, website raise profile of Dene A Journey

New season, website raise profile of Dene A Journey
Reneltta Arluk and Eugene Boulanger star in the second season of APTN’s Dene A Journey, a NWT-produced TV documentary show profiling indigenous cultural resurgence.Photo: Amos Scott.

A new website boasting beautiful behind the scenes footage, elders’ stories, indigenous language and information on the people and places of the NWT might accomplish more than simply promoting the hit Northern TV show, Dene A Journey.

It could make it part of a greater movement, says writer, director and producer Amos Scott.

Dene A Journey as a brand or movement is something that has the potential to become more than a TV show,” said Scott, who launched the show’s innovative new website last week in preparation for the premiere of the show’s second season this year on APTN.

“Ultimately that’s the end goal, right? The TV show is fun to do and fun to watch, but the end goal is to have people take the initiative within their daily lives to reconnect to the land and see what kind of value that has for their personal lives.”

Dene A Journey, which debuted on APTN in 2012, is a documentary series that tells the story of young, urban indigenous people on a trek to reconnect with their culture and, ultimately, themselves.

As the first major TV production by Scott, a former video journalist for APTN, the idea was at once accomplishable and personal.

“For me, (reconnecting with culture) was a desire of my peers and I when we were growing up and not feeling connected or having those opportunities,” shared Scott, who even had the cameras flipped on him for one episode of the first season.

“As I got those opportunities through work and through just going out on the land with people, I started to see the value in it, and eventually as it became my job to sit down and create a TV show, knowing this common desire among my peers and other young people, I felt like it was something that would connect with people and that I could manage.”

Though the website currently only features trailers for two of the season’s six episodes – a beluga hunt off the Arctic Coast with actor Reneltta Arluk and a hunting trip in the Sahtu with Eugene Boulanger – work is wrapping up on the remaining four, which are expected to be done by March.

The new episodes follow Kristen Tanche back to Fort Simpson where she attends the Dehcho assembly for the first time as a youth delegate, while Jen Redvers heads to the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in search of traditional sites – only to be blocked by massive forest fires.

Musician Jay Gilday heads to Deline for the first time since he was a child to go moose hunting on the Bear River with his uncle, and theory and practice unite in an episode featuring Dr. Glen Coulthard, a professor at the University of British Columbia and member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, whose latest book, Red Skin, White Masks, advocates a land-based approach to decolonization.

Scott said the images of Coulthard paired with voice-over excerpts from his book make for a powerful juxtaposition.

“Some of his teachings blend really well with the land-based imagery we have in Dene A Journey,” he said. “It’s really cool to hear him speaking like that and then also have the footage connect to it.”

Scott said teasers and character profiles from the new episodes will be revealed closer to the season’s airing date later this year. He has also amped up the social media presence of the show in order to boost its popularity and reach a new audience, and was able to promote the show during NWT Days last week in Ottawa.

He said the website, created by Ecstatic Design in Vancouver, offers additional video, photo and written content to the show’s viewers that can promote language and educate about the North, making it a potential hub for the future sharing of cultural knowledge and empowering stories.

“It’s not just my show; I think there’s been a movement within the younger indigenous community – and our Northern community – just to reconnect with the land, so that kind of story is becoming more common,” Scott reflected. “That to me is a really positive thing.”

Find the show online at www.deneajourney.com

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