“Our language, our culture is so connected to our land, our water, and our ice” – Maatalii Okalik, Inuit youth advocate
For centuries, Inuit communities have lived on the sea ice that lies between Canada and Greenland. They’ve created families and have passed down their traditions from generation to generation. They’ve established a way of life and have a culture so near and dear to them. But, imagine having all of that slowly but surely taken away from you.
This is what the Inuit communities are experiencing – their homes, their lives, their culture greatly at stake because of the actions of none other than human beings. National Geographic’s new documentary, The Last Ice brings awareness to this alarming problem.
In The Last Ice, we see that not only is the sea ice between Canada and Greenland melting, it is also not forming anymore either. As people’s lives are under threat, this extremely devastating circumstance serves as a new opportunity for others – “oil and gas deposits, faster shipping routes, tourism and fishing all provide financial incentive to exploit the newly opened waters” (source: National Geographic).
The everyday lives of the Inuit communities are drastically being changed. This documentary tells their story and their fight to save the disappearing Arctic that they’ve called “home” for hundreds of years.
The Last Ice is directed by Scott Ressler and is executive produced by National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Enric Sala. The documentary is a powerful way of showing the effects of humans’ actions on the Arctic ecosystem, and the world as a whole. It’s been said before and it will be said again, humans are nature’s worst enemy. From the smallest action to the biggest, everything we do has an effect on the environment, and it’s incredibly crucial, now more than ever, to strive to make a positive impact, spread awareness and do all that we can do to save the planet we, and so many others, live in.
The documentary features interviews with film subjects including Maatalii Okalik, an Inuit youth advocate, and Aleqatsiaq Peary, an Inuk musician and hunter living in Qaanaaq, Greenland. Viewers are presented with the heart-breaking realities that the Inuit communities have been facing from overcrowded homes to food scarcity. This documentary shows what so many people all over the world have either been blinded from seeing, or have taken for granted.
Director Scott Ressler, Dr. Enric Sala, and Maatalii Okalik joined in an online Q&A discussion as part of the virtual premiere for the documentary on October 4, 2020. Ressler talked about the inception of the documentary during the Q&A and how the story was actually found while making the film.
“We started in about 2015, so this was a four year process and when we started making the film it was really sort of a traditional wildlife and sea ice, almost scientific documentary,” said Ressler. “We quickly learned when we started going to the communities that the story was much bigger and every time we went up and started speaking to different Inuit groups and different individuals, the story unfolded on its own organically and all these different elements started coming in from the history of colonization to the resource extraction that’s looming on the horizon to militarization in the Arctic, and so it really had quite an evolution from the beginning of the film; and the critical takeaway at the end is that none of these things exist in a vacuum, they’re all interconnected, and that was really one of the big goals of the film, was to try to weave a thread through all these different elements that could take everyone watching beyond the headlines and put it all together in a way that I certainly hadn’t seen before.”
“The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, so the Inuits are really the human face of global warming,” said Dr. Enric Sala. “All these activities that produce all this kind of pollution are not in the Arctic region, they’re mostly where we are or further south, but they are suffering the consequences. So to me, this is one more example of how everything is connected, of how everybody is connected, that if you tamper with nature or the climate on one part of the world, the consequences are going to be global.”
Alexisjoyvipaccess had the honor of attending the virtual premiere and live panel discussion for National Geographic’s The Last Ice. Our world is connected in more ways than imaginable, which means every action we take has an effect on someone or something else – be it other people, wildlife, and nature as a whole. I was gifted Dr. Enric Sala’s extraordinary memoir, The Nature of Nature from National Geographic, which further illustrates the importance of nature conservation. To learn more on how you can protect the planet we live in and for more information on Dr. Enric Sala’s journey, you can purchase The Nature of Nature here.
The Last Ice premiered on Nat Geo Wild on October 12th.