Young documentary filmmakers delve into South Okanagan national park controversy - InfoNews

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Young documentary filmmakers delve into South Okanagan national park controversy

Thompson Rivers University student Robert Wisla, along with two other fellow students, is working on a documentary about the South Okanagan Similkameen National park proposal.
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October 24, 2018 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Three journalism students at Thompson Rivers University hope to create a lasting piece of balanced journalism as they take on the issues surrounding the creation of a national park in the South Okanagan in a video documentary.

Robert Wisla, 21, spokesman for the project, says he got interested in doing a video documentary on the subject after first hearing about the national park proposal and the controversy around it.

"When I first heard about the issue, it struck me as interesting, and after looking into it a bit I found there was not a lot of information out there,” he says.

Wisla has since discovered the issue is a lot deeper than he first thought.

“That’s kind of been blowing me away a little bit. It’s things like how the nature trust is down there already, with their private lands that are protected, then there are the ranchers, who we talked to. They really don’t want it, but some will take the money, then there is all our taxpayers’ dollars going to create it," he says.

Wisla says it been a really interesting experience so far. He recently launched a GoFundMe page after a failed bid to get support for the project through Telus Storyhive.

“We thought, we’d put so much work into the story already, and it was one we wanted to do, myself and my team decided to work out of the back of our car, borrow some equipment from J- school and go for it,” he says.

“It was fun, sleeping on the street in the beginning, less fun now that it’s cold,” he says, adding the crew spends their weekends in the South Okanagan and Similkameen piecing together the video.

So far they’ve interviewed a couple local politicians and several ranchers, with promises of interviews to come from MP Dick Cannings and MLA Linda Larson.

“We’re saving the politicians for last, because as we’ve interviewed others, questions have come up which I’m going to want to ask them,” he says.

Filming is expected to wrap up in November. Wista and his crew will get class credit for the project in their journalism course, but Wista says one of the main reasons for the project was to include the work in a film company he created called Centre Leaf Productions.

“It’s been a really great experience. I love the people down in the South Okanagan,” he says.

"What I’ve found is the yes and no side both make really good points. I’ve been constantly swayed back and forth, depending on who I talk to,” he says, adding it often feels like a lose-lose situation.

“Another interesting thing I’ve learned is many environmental groups have told me, “oh we’ve got 75 - 80 per cent of the people in favour of the park. But when I go down there and talk to people, it doesn’t feel like that. It doesn’t feel anything close to that,” Wisla says.


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