Indigenous filmmakers tell the story of wildlife crossings - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Indigenous filmmakers tell the story of wildlife crossings

Grizzly bear near road

Y2Y honored to support creation of new short animated film calling for more safe passages for wildlife

Movement and migration have been a necessity for animals’ survival in the wild long before landscapes were painted with pavement and cut through with fast-moving vehicles.

Now, imagine what it would be like to cross a busy highway from their perspective.

Animation written and produced by Nakoda Audio Visual Club

In a new short film, the youth-led Nakoda Audio Visual (AV) Club worked on an animation project that shows the challenge of crossing Alberta’s fast-flowing Highway 1 through the eyes of wildlife like bears, wolves and buffalo. In the film, the group makes a strong case for more wildlife crossings like the proposed “Stoney Nakoda Exshaw Wildlife Arch” — a high-collision spot on Highway 1 near Stoney Nakoda First Nation, east of Banff National Park.

“Animals are deserving of life as well; they deserve for their voice to be heard,” says the AV Club’s Tashina Ear, who co-wrote the story. “But ever since the Trans-Canada Highway has been put in place, so many cars come and go, and these animals aren’t fully aware of what they’re getting themselves into — that’s when they get run over.”

Y2Y was thrilled to work with these talented youth whose community members not only live with wildlife, but also experience the impacts of deadly wildlife-vehicle collisions. The film was written, produced, voiced and animated by AV club members, with support from Y2Y staff Adam Linnard and Tim Johnson.

Y2Y’s Alberta program associate Tim Johnson being interviewed by members of the Nakoda AV Club near a wildlife underpass on Alberta’s Highway 1. Credit: Adam Linnard

“Wildlife are important for all sorts of reasons and are known from many different perspectives,” says Adam Linnard, Alberta program manager for Y2Y. “We hope that supporting the AV Club to tell their own story of connectivity can broaden our understanding of these lands, animals and community while bringing the solution of safer crossings to a larger audience.”

The Bow Valley is one of the most important regional wildlife corridors in Alberta and the broader Yellowstone-to-Yukon region. Busy highways mean the possibility of more wildlife-vehicle collisions, dangerous for both animals and motorists. Roads are also a major barrier to the wide-ranging movements that connect individual animals with diverse habitats and mates.

In 2019, the Alberta government announced funding for wildlife crossings and fencing projects on Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass and Highway 1 outside of Banff National Park. This commitment from decision-makers is a great step forward in Y2Y’s work to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve connectivity through these important movement corridors.

Want to know more about how this innovative project came about? See more of the Nakoda AV Club’s hard work in this behind-the-scenes look at the wildlife crossings film.

Proud partners: Nakoda AV Club

The Nakoda Audio Visual Club is a youth-run arts production and storytelling society. They believe in the potential of youth and the power of story, following the guidance of Elders and their own hearts. As a collective, a group of people who gather to support each other’s artistic endeavors, the AV Club believes in the ability of people to accomplish goals through hard work, dedication and support.