fractured land

There’s a lot of trust inherent in the politics of the environment.

Who do you believe?  How do you know who to trust?  There’s research emerging that says we surround ourselves with people who confirm our own beliefs (Kahan, Nature, 2012), so much so that because we constantly hear ideas we already believe parroted back at us, it reaffirms them – right or wrong.  We’re losing sight of that honest voice amidst the din.

One of the things I most admired about Caleb Behn, the focus of FRACTURED LAND, is that he valued his ability to be trustworthy – by getting and keeping his law degree.  The film follows Behn for 4 years in his quest to protect his family and the indigenous community from the horrors of hydrofracking in Northeastern British Columbia.  Behn was born with a cleft palette and 18 surgeries later, has a rakish smile to accompany his quiet demeanor and mohawk haircut that makes you really sure he knows something you don’t.  What the film show us is that he actually does, and he’s going to need your trust to help save us from our own ignorance.

The governments of most countries that still have indigenous people within their borders have violated their rights, their sovereignty, and been disrespectful at almost every turn.  The northern parts of British Columbia are no different.  The area has been basically turned over to the oil and gas industry (where Behn’s mother works to create change from the inside) and fracking is fragmenting the land and polluting the water.  Behn wants to fight the lack of consultation with the local indigenous communities, as guaranteed by Treaty 8, in an effort to stop the fracking.

One of the best things about FRACTURED LAND is that it doesn’t try to be a new take on fracking.  There are the requisite descriptions of the problems it is likely causing, and the way that it’s clearly fragmenting the land (as seen in the image he uses), and the sheer numbers of wells and planned wells to overwhelm any sane person.

What the film is really doing is to show us the lengths one young man, who has already been through a lot, will go to be trustworthy and a strong representative for his people – and all people who think fracking might not be the best way forward.  Keep the name Caleb Behn in the back of your mind because you’ll be hearing it again and again, hopefully.

FRACTURED LAND plays at Hot Docs 2015 today, Thursday April 30th – 2:30pm at The Scotiabank Theatre. It then plays once more at the Scotiabank, on Saturday May 2nd – 4pm. (official website)