Karen Digby, a farmer in Dawson, sits during filming of Sovereign Soil. (Submitted)

Now available through virtual screening: Sovereign Soil

Film focuses on farming in Dawson

It was in 2013 commercial salmon fisher and artist David Curtis began work on a documentary about off-the-grid farming in his community of Dawson with Whitehorse filmmaker Andrew Conners.

It’s a production that was “always intended to pose more questions than answers” and it’s Curtis’ hope it will encourage viewers to look at their own connection with the land and think about their own role in the ecosystem.

On June 12, the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada announced a countrywide virtual release of Curtis’ film Sovereign Soil. It’s available through the Yukon Film Society’s website until July 10.

It marks Curtis’ first feature documentary, with Curtis also planning for future projects focused on the relationship between people and the land in Dawson.

In a June 15 interview, Curtis said as a commercial salmon fisher he takes joy in providing local food to the community and he’s long been interested in the motivation for local farmers to live off the land as they do.

Growing up in the Prairies, Curtis worked on a number of farms and came to know the effort and lifestyle that goes into farming and local food production. It’s not something anyone goes into for the money, he said.

“It just brought that back home to me,” he said of his experience making the film.

As the NFB described in a statement: “Sovereign Soil explores the myth of the rugged individual living ‘off the land’ through the lens of contemporary people who are actually doing it.

“In the process we discover that there is much to be learned from these people and their way of life, especially the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, who have lived contentedly in this challenging environment for thousands of years.”

Curtis said it was important to have the TH Farm featured in the film given its significant role in local food production. The farm is about 14 kilometres southeast of Dawson. The farm was established by the First Nation in 2014 to create a sustainable, local food supply and in the past has also served as an on-site farm school for Yukon College (now Yukon University.)

Along with the First Nation farm, the film showcases a family of farmers who also home schools their children, a third-generation German horticulturist and others with a love for living and producing food on the land.

Having lived in the Klondike for more than two decades, Curtis said there weren’t a lot of surprises that came in making the film as he already knows many of those featured in the film, but it emphasized for him again the passion farmers have for food production on the land.

Throughout the production, Curtis helped out with some of the work (picking potatoes, for example) on the farms of those he was working with.

Since the NFB has made it available online on June 12, Curtis said he’s been getting email from viewers across the country interested in northern agriculture.

He noted the film seems to be reaching a wider audience with the virtual release of the film that came in light of COVID-19 than it may have otherwise.

While the global pandemic has halted any planned screenings of Sovereign Soil at film festivals for the time being, Curtis said there are plans in the works to have it broadcast on Northwestel Community Cable 9.

Early discussions are also underway on a potential broadcast on a PBS affiliate in Alaska.

Sovereign Soil had been scheduled to open the Dawson City International Short Film Festival that has now been postponed until Oct. 8 to 11 due to COVID-19. Curtis said he’s hoping the film will be screened at the rescheduled festival.

He’s also continuing to keep an eye on the status of other film festivals and the possibility of screenings when those events begin happening again.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Farmingfilm

 

Director of Sovereign Soil David Curtis. (Submitted)

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read