Film featuring Tuk greenhouses set to premiere next month

Marjorie, a Tuktoyaktuk resident, smells one of the plants grown in the community's greenhouse. (Supplied by Food for the Rest of Us.)
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A film that spotlights the grower community in Tuktoyaktuk will soon make its international debut. 

“Food for the Rest of Us” tells the story of food growers in four communities, Tuktoyaktuk, Colorado, Hawaii and Kansas City. 

The film is slated to be screened at the Doxa International Documentary Festival. Normally the annual event is held in Vancouver, but is being streamed virtually this year from May 6 to 16.

Director Caroline Cox says the people featured in the documentary have all turned to growing their own food to improve their lives and their communities. She adds some use food to help support social movements like Black Lives Matter, while growers in Tuktoyaktuk are working in greenhouses to help the local population adapt to the impacts of climate change on hunting and harvesting seasons.

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“The High Arctic is really tied to climate change and the changes in the land — kind of both sides of the coin where people are able to grow a bit more food, traditionally Inuit generally weren’t farmers,” she said. “But then also because of climate change, the hunting and fishing cycles are changing and it’s actually getting harder to find food on the land.”

“There’s a lot of systems in place in Canada that really press and hold down Indigenous people,” added Cox. “It’s really an example of people surviving on their own term and using food is the method to thrive.”

Adapting to the unpredictable conditions in Tuktoyaktuk made production tricky, said Cox.

“Like I actually put everyone up like on flights and got the tech on my own personal credit card, just because I knew we wanted to film there before the growing season ended. 

Cox’s production studio is based in the NWT and she has a cabin on the Liard River where she stays when in the NWT. Her co-developer on the project, Tiffany Ayalik, was born and raised in Yellowknife.

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Cox first got the idea for the film a couple of years ago after she worked on another project in the NWT, creating a TV series called Wild Kitchen for Northwestel.

Filming was mostly completed before COVID-19, with just post-production slowed down slightly because of the pandemic.

“There were days where I just did not want to be on Zoom for one more minute,” said Cox.

Cox is working with a producer to have the documentary used in schools as an educational tool.

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“I certainly hope that folks and whether it’s through our project or some other catalysts that inspires them, start to really question where the food comes from,” she said. “There’s so many intrinsic values to growing your own food or buying food that is locally harvested,” she said.

“I guess time will tell I really, I don’t know how society will adapt and change in the future,” she added.

Cox said she hopes to have a screening in Yellowknife sometime soon.

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