Shadow of a Giant: The Story of Yellowknife’s Giant Mine

Project Spotlight: A documentary about one of Canada’s largest environmental disasters. 

Land Indigenous Sovereignty Creating Representation Technology Activism Possible Futures
A photograph showing the site of the Giant Mine with black birds sitting along the top of the structure.

Shadow of a Giant is an interactive documentary that tells the story of one Canada’s largest environmental disasters, Yellowknife’s Giant Mine. Buried in collapsing chambers, within the municipal boundary of Yellowknife, and beside the ninth largest lake in the world, sits 237,000 tons of the highly toxic contaminant, arsenic trioxide, a byproduct of the defunct gold mine.

The city of Yellowknife and the surrounding aboriginal communities depend on a remediation plan that will refrigerate the arsenic into place, until a permanent solution can be found. Shadow of a Giant tells the story of Giant through the people who live on top of it and call it home. From the remediation (clean-up) team, who work to stabilize the arsenic; to the people who live and work in Yellowknife; to those who worked at the mine; to the proponents of the extraction industry in the North; to the Yellowknives Dene First Nations that live within hundreds of metres of the contaminated site, their collective voices tell the story of Giant’s history. Their ideas of what the Giant Mine site could become reflects a painful history for these communities, but also reveals a brighter future for this toxic legacy.

This project commenced through a Canada Council Residency project through Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP) in the fall of 2012.

A photograph showing the site of the Giant Mine with black birds sitting along the top of the structure.
Ravens on Roaster, Giant Mine Site (2013). © Clark Ferguson.
A photograph showing a person wearing a red plaid shirt and baseball cap standing in front of crushed cars.
Walt Humphries Reimagining (2012). © Clark Ferguson.
A photo of a person standing in front of a digital rendering of a theme park.
Davis Heslep (2012). © Clark Ferguson.
A photograph showing tailings ponds with a cityscape in the background on the horizon.
Tailings Ponds with Yellowknife (2013). © Clark Ferguson.
A photograph showing an open pit with old, broken remnants of the Giant Mine operations.
Giant Mine Open Pit (2012). © Clark Ferguson.

Interactive Doc web link:

Credit: This video was originally published by Clark Ferguson. 


30 min Documentary link: 

Credit: This video was originally published by Clark Ferguson in 2015.


Director: Clark Ferguson
Producers: Lesley Johnson and Clark Ferguson with Western Arctic Motion Pictures
Writers and Research: Clark Ferguson and Lesley Johnson
Animators: Sasha Stanojevic, Lyuba Kirkova, Saki Murotani
Website Graphic Design: Sasha Stanojevic, Lyuba Kirkova and Sailing on Sound
Website Coding, Design and Web Animation: Sailing on Sound
Camera: Clark Ferguson
Additional Camera: Davis Heslep and Pablo Saravanja
Location Sound: Clark Ferguson and Lesley Johnson
Editing: Clark Ferguson and additional editing by Paul Neudorf
Music and Scoring: Gilles Zolty with Chris Flower
Audio Mix: Gilles Zolty


About WAMP 

Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP) showcases and supports filmmakers and digital creators in the Northwest Territories. WAMP is a membership-based, non-profit Canadian arts organization based in the city of Yellowknife. WAMP’s mission is to produce, support, showcase and promote film, video and digital media in the North.

WAMP aims to help Northwest Territories filmmakers make the right connections, stay informed about funding opportunities, learn more about their craft, and develop professional relationships that will help them achieve their full creative potential.

About Clark Ferguson 

I am a Saskatchewan-born artist and filmmaker living, working and creating in Québec. My work has traditionally been concerned with issues related to identity politics and place. My narrative works focus on aspects of regionalism and attempt to use humour as a method of investigating these subjects. My documentary works also focus on regionalism and I am intent on making those subjects both interesting and accessible for those within and outside those borders.

My work has travelled to festivals such as Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, the Yellowknife International Film Festival, The Sudbury International Cinefest Film Festival, The En Regard Court Metrage Film Festival, Winnipeg’s WNDX, Germany’s Open Air Weiterstadt Film Festival, and have had several short works presented on CBC’s National Independent film program Canadian Reflections. I also have worked with Web Docs, Theatre and have shown film work in the gallery context. I also work as a filmmaker-mentor for Wapikoni mobile and have collaborated on over 50 films in seven First Nations’ communities.  

I currently work as a DOP/Camera Operator for long and short form documentary film projects, doc series, and experimental narrative works.


This story is part of the Northwest Territories Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.