Allan Code — filming a Pandemic at the End of the World

A headshot of director Allan Code. (Supplied by Allan Code.)
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Pandemics on the kind of scale seen with COVID-19 seem like a rarity. 

But they are all too common for the people of Kitigaaruk.

The small northern community, lying on the coast of the Mackenzie River Delta, has seen several pandemics within the last hundred years.

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Pokiak’s advice to deal with COVID-19: listen to your elders. (Supplied by NFB Canada.)

In the early 19th century John Franklin and his crew infected the locals with deadly smallpox. 

The Spanish Flu would arrive via a different group of settlers less than a hundred years later.

Allan Code, told the story of the community’s struggles in his new film, Pandemic at the End of the World.

“The people were presented with an awful choice – the most extreme social distancing you can imagine … It was, ‘Don’t even say goodbye. You just have to walk away, take what you need for survival, and walk away.’ That’s how the survivors survived.”

Allan Code, filmmaker

Code told the story partially through interviews done with Inuvialuit elder Randall Pokiak.

“He was a guy who bridged the gap between history and the present day. We look at a place where the oral tradition is really, really important. We’ve lost so many elders that were in touch with that tradition.”

Allan Code, filmmaker

Randall passed away earlier last year, and never got to see the film.


For Code, that made telling the story all the more important.

“The danger is, cultural memory being what it is, and our loss of elders, they might be starting to forget. Our job was to amplify – artistically and every other way – to amplify what Randall had to say.”

Allan Code, filmmaker

Code’s film was part of the showcase at Yellowknife International Film Festival in November.

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