Ghosts of Futures Past – Tom Berger in the North

GHOSTS OF FUTURES PAST – TOM BERGER IN THE NORTH, CANADA, 2004, 52 minutes, HD

Tom Berger, Herb Norwegian Grand Chief of the Dehcho, David Suzuki

Tom Berger, Herb Norwegian Grand Chief of the Dehcho, David Suzuki

In the 1970s, the Berger Inquiry into the construction of a Mackenzie Valley Pipeline captured the Canadian imagination. The Dene and Inuvialuit people, all but invisible to our culture as we extracted resources from their lands, stood up and said “We’re not going to take it anymore”.

Berger recommended against the pipeline’s construction for 10 years to allow time for First Nations to complete land claims agreements with the Canadian government. And almost unbelievably, Big Oil’s Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project was stopped.

Thirty years later, three of the four aboriginal groups in the Valley have settled their land claims and a $16 billion Mackenzie Gas Project is poised to open up the North to large-scale industrialization.

In Ghosts of Futures Past, Tom Berger and David Suzuki return to some of the communities where Berger held his famous hearings. The question is how can aboriginal people who are ‘of the land’ stay true to the values that have defined them for thousands of years AND become equal and meaningful participants in an economy based on the extraction of oil and gas ‘from the land’? Tom Berger and all the archival material are like a ghostly conscience, reminders of when aboriginal people passionately rejected this kind of future. They urge the people to re-visit the question in their own time.