Fishing has been an essential element of Batchewana’s sustenance, identity, and livelihood from time immemorial.
Beyond food, the Anishinabek and Ojibwe People of the Great Lakes region have a long established set of practices, lifestyles, and governance structures that are deeply integrated into cultures and communities. The arrival of Europeans and the eventual establishment of the colonial state violently disrupted Indigenous ways of being. However, Indigenous people have persisted. This has included court battles to protect Inherent rights and active participation in traditional fishing activities despite ongoing and often violent state suppression.
Today, Batchewana operates the largest and most successful fishery on the Canadian side of Lake Superior.
This includes 27 captains and their crews that depend on the fisheries for sustenance as well as sales to local processing plants, restaurants, shops, and farmers’ markets across the region. Batchewana fisheries have adopted a range of new technologies and techniques while embedded in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and in alignment with oral teachings.
To this day, the People of Batchewana continue to fish as part of an inherited obligation to all of Creation, with caring for the fisheries part of their responsibility
The narrative arc of the film follows Chief Sayers through a series of discussions with community members that explore the underlying social and ecological approaches of Batchewana’s fisheries as well as perspectives about its history, current practices, and future directions. This includes ways that fishing had changed over time, stories that shaped the community, the land and the watershed, conflicts with the state around management and regulation, principles of Indigenous law and governance, as well as the culture and ceremony that are deeply embedded within fishing traditions. 12 community members including Elders, Knowledge Keepers, youth, fishers, and community leaders are featured in the film sharing their stories, knowledge, teachings, and experiences pertaining to Batchewana’s fisheries.
About the filmmaker
Sarah Furlotte is a filmmaker with fifteen years’ experience in community-based film and art production. Sarah sees film as an accessible artistic medium to impart understanding and compassion and contribute to positive social change. She grew up and continues to make her home in Thunder Bay, Ontario.