Production on John Walker’s Arctic Defenders doc gets underway


In 1968, veteran Canadian documentary maker John Walker as a 16-year-old and with a 35mm camera in hand sailed from Montreal to Resolute Bay to fulfill a childhood dream to visit the high Arctic.

And this week Walker and his film crew boarded yet another ship, the Clipper Adventurer in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, as production got underway on Arctic Defenders, a feature documentary about the 1960s roots of Nunavut.

“They began their political movement by challenging the use of the foreign word Eskimo. They were Inuit and they had a dream – the governance of their territory, the creation of Nunavut,” said Walker, recalling his original high Arctic journey that took place against the backdrop of 1960s radicalism that reimagined the world of the “Eskimos” for the Inuit.

Arctic Defenders is a co-production between John Walker Productions and Unikkaat Studios, and includes the website

Walker and his film crew are accompanied on their journey by Oo Aqpik, a Inuk woman, as they sail across the Baffin Straight to a number of ports including Clyde River and Pond Inlet, before reaching Resolute Bay.

The film sees Oo act as a guide, introducing pioneers of Nunavut and recasting Canada’s sovereignty in the north from an Inuit point of view.

Walker the filmmaker also knows well the high Arctic beyond his youthful appreciation for Inuit art.

He co-produced, wrote and directed Passage, a film about  John Franklin’s failed Arctic expedition and the Inuit as portrayed primitively by Charles Dickens.

Arctic Defenders received production coin from the Canada Media Fund, Rogers Telefund and Film Nova Scotia, in addition to tax credits.

The website is produced with help from the Bell Media Fund, the Canada Media Fund and Super Channel.

Photo: Arctic Defenders, Resolute 1968