Kwadacha by the river


Jessica Hallenbeck Mitchell McCook Dave Shortt


Jessica Hallenbeck Mitchell McCook Dave Shortt
  • Release Date 2019
  • Running Time 19 minutes
  • Closed Captions No
  • Availability Canada, USA

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Kwadacha by the riverKwadacha by the riverKwadacha by the river

In the 1960s the people of the Kwadacha First Nation were flooded out of their traditional northern British Columbia territory by one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world, the W.A.C. Bennett dam. Now, they share their story of loss and resilience.

In 1961, BC Hydro began construction of a dam on the Peace River in northern British Columbia, one of the highest earth fill hydroelectric dams in the world. When it was completed in 1968, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam forever altered the waters and lands along the Peace River, flooding the Tsek'ene First Nation people out of their traditional unceded territory, creating a devastating social and cultural impact on them. Kwadacha by the river was created in collaboration by the generosity of the Kwadacha Tsek'ene Elders, who share stories of loss and survival. As Emil McCook, an Elder and former Chief puts it,'s a valley that we've lost...and it's lost forever as far as First Nations are concerned. Despite ongoing trauma from the dam's construction and the loss of their territory, the people of Kwadacha came together to tell a painful story--one everyone should see and hear.

Directors' Notes:

Directing Kwadacha by the river was a profoundly humbling and life-changing experience. When Lantern Films was first approached to create a film about the devastating human impacts of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, one of the largest dams in the world, we wanted to ensure that the Kwadacha community had editorial control over the way their story would be told. We shot the film over two years, hosting meetings, screenings and feasts with Kwadacha Elders and leaders. The animation in the film was co-created by students at the community's high school. Kwadacha by the river is not only a story of devastation. It's also about the strength of the Tsek'ene people and their courage to share personal and difficult truths with others.

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