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Documentary film debuts from Mayo

Old and new ways of tanning hides come together on film to restore, teach and modernize traditional process
Betty Lucas and Joella Hogan working with the hide in the documentary film, Beyond Hide Tanning. (Screenshot)

Nobody is just one thing.

No town is just one thing.

Joella Hogan, former heritage manager for the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation and involved community member, wants to talk about the joy of living in Mayo and the strength and heritage of her people.

That’s why she’s widely sharing the community’s recently released documentary, Beyond Hide Tanning, which shows the first moose hide tanning program offered by Yukon University’s Mayo campus.

The 30-minute film, which premiered on Dec. 12, shows elders and youth combining old and modern ways while delving into the impacts of the residential school system on their community.

Hogan thinks the film is an opportunity to show Mayo in a happier light.

“These days, Mayo is in the news for all of the wrong reasons,” Hogan said in an interview via instant messenger on Dec. 13.

“Yet it is these moments of light, these activities done from the heart that will continue to carry us through the darkest times.”

Hogan explained that the 2019 hide tanning camp was several years in the making.

“The vision was grounded in teachings, lessons and a promise to our elders to uphold those values and traditions and that we, as young people, would commit to learning and passing them on,” she said.

“So, on the shore of the Mayo River, a camp was set up, elders and knowledge keepers gathered and so many people keen to learn.”

Taylor Smith of Arrowsmith Productions was Mayo’s resident filmmaker at the time, Hogan explained.

“(Smith) was able to listen and capture the stories of the people and share them in a way that truly captured our beautiful community and its rich culture,” she said.

“This film has been a long time coming and we are so happy to share it with you. We deeply acknowledge the loss of two beautiful elders to whom this film is dedicated, Bella Peter and Julia Olsen.”

The video was created with the assistance of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Yukon University and was produced by Arrowsmith Productions.

It is available on Vimeo and via the Arrowsmith Productions Facebook page.

Hogan is currently working to invest in her community with a small housing project attached to her business, the Yukon Soap Company.

Contact Lawrie Crawford at