Exploring the Legacy of Wood Buffalo National Park: The Ejection of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

September 30, 2022

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is prompting youth aged across Turtle Island (Canada) to explore the history of colonization and injustice that took place in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park. 2022 marks the 100-year anniversary of the creation of the park, but ACFN is not interested in celebrating. When the park was created, Dene people were forced to leave their homeland in what is now Wood Buffalo National Park. Many were violently removed from their land and had their homes burned to the ground. This violence, which is detailed in a 2021 report on the park’s history, resulted in the loss of essential land-based knowledge and has led to a century of inter-generational trauma, compacted by additional injustices over the past hundred years.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is inviting youth aged 16-20 to explore this tragic legacy through a storytelling contest. Youth are invited to submit either a written/video essay, short story, poem, painting, dance piece or any other form of creative media that is able to convey and explore the ejection of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation from Wood Buffalo National Park. As ACFN Chief Allan Adam shared: “The only way that Indigenous people can prevent the atrocities of the past centuries is by educating the new generation. If we are to entrust our future to the youth, we must ensure they know the truth. Please help us safeguard our culture, people and traditions by participating in this act of reconciliation.” Applicants may use the preliminary report on the expulsion, the full reportmedia coverage, and/or their own research about the events to substantiate their submissions. The top 3 entrants will receive a cash prize, and the top 10 entries will be shared on ACFN’s website and social media channels.

How to Apply

Applicants should send submissions to kg.banjoko@acfn.com

Written pieces may be submitted in Word or PDF format. For visual art pieces, the artist may submit videos and/or photographs of the work. Live art forms should be submitted in video form. We encourage entrants to use your creativity to show off both your work and the story behind it! We also encourage contestants to share their entries on social media using #WoodBuffaloExpulsion

Applicants are able to submit a short essay between 750 – 1000 words OR a video response + script (Think mini-TEDx keynote) OR any other form of creative media (painting, poetry, spoken word etc.).

All written submissions must be double-spaced using size 12 font, in either Word or PDF format.

Scholarship of $1000 in total awarded to the best three essay writers.

1st place — $500

2nd place — $300

3rd place — $200

The top 10 pieces will be shared on ACFN’s social media. This may include tagging elected officials in order to bring attention to ACFN’s story. By submitting their pieces, entrants agree to have their work shared publicly on social media. Entrants may indicate that they wish to keep their name anonymous. Please sign and return the below Contestant Release with your entry.