Experiencing Interruptions?


In the startling collapse of the once massive George River Caribou Herd - and a subsequent total hunting ban - Inuit in Labrador, Canada, were abruptly confronted with a new reality: life without a fundamental source of food, culture, and wellbeing. Through Inuit voices, HERD tells the story of the social, emotional, and cultural disruptions from cascading ecological change by putting an essential human face to the caribou declines. The film, which was developed over five years of intimate collaboration between filmmakers and communities, cinematically explores an array of lived experiences, from youth to Elders and hunters to cooks, to ensure that the stories of those living on the frontlines of this conservation crisis are HERD. It is a portrait of the deep and delicate interconnections that exist between humans and non-human life, a glimpse of heartbreaking loss and pain felt by entire communities, and an unforgettable testament of cultural endurance, hope, and resilience in the context of ecological uncertainty.

  • David Borish
  • David Borish
  • Ashlee Cunsolo
  • Sherilee L. Harper
  • Inez Shiwak
  • Ian Mauro
    Production Support
  • Jamie Snook
  • Michele Wood
  • Amy Hudson
  • Jim Goudie
  • Aaron Dale
  • Charlene Kippenhuck
  • Charlie Flowers
  • George Russell Jr.
  • Joseph Townley
  • Bryn Wood
  • Meredith Purcell
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Indigenous, Conservation, Wildlife, Human-Environment Relationship, Well-Being, Culture, Environmental, Inuit
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 9, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    230,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Vtape - distribution@vtape.org | wandav@vtape.org
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - David Borish

David Borish is a social and health researcher and visual artist pushing at the boundaries of using audio-visual methodologies to explore and understand relationships between humans and the environment. His work sits at the interface of documentary film, public health, cultural and social wellbeing, wildlife conservation, and audio-visual research methods. To create HERD, Borish worked in partnership with Inuit community members, the Nunatsiavut Government, the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Torngat Wildlife, Plants, and Fisheries Secretariat, and academics from across Canada. Alongside Inez Shiwak (Inuk researcher from Rigolet, Labrador), David co-interviewed 80 Inuit from the Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut regions. Previously, he has worked in partnership with Indigenous Peoples in Peru, Uganda, Malaysia, Nepal, and elsewhere to co-create visual stories relating to environmental and social issues. Through film, photography, and articles and other forms of writing, his work is centered around producing both research and storytelling outputs that can be used to inform multiple and diverse audiences within and outside of academia.

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Director Statement

In 2016, I had the incredible privilege and honour to be invited to join a project as a filmmaker and researcher that was exploring the ways in which a collapse of caribou populations and subsequent total hunting ban was impacting Inuit throughout the Inuit regions of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut in Labrador, Canada. I had previously worked on other multimedia and research projects with Indigenous communities in other parts of the world, but this was the first time I was tasked with blending film and research in such an integrated way – the film is not about the research, it is the research.

As a Settler from Southern Canada, I had experience co-creating visual media outputs at the community level. However, this was the first time I would collaborate in such an immersive and collective manner to ensure the story would be shared in the right ways and for the right people. I worked directly with a Caribou Research Steering Committee, Inuit researchers, and community leaders across different regions, disciplines, professions, and knowledge systems to document, explore and communicate the story of Inuit and caribou in Labrador.

Together, we recognize the purpose for this film and larger research initiative is about respecting and leveraging the voices and wisdom of individuals and communities that have coexisted with non-human life within their homelands for generations. It is about highlighting the deep and complex interrelations and affinities between humans and non-humans. It is about recognizing how tremendous change for a species can be felt by humans in the present, and between generations. It is about realizing what it could mean when an animal was once embedded into the daily lives of many, and is now unknown to a younger generation.

This work is a celebration. It celebrates the story of Inuit and caribou throughout their shared history, highlights the ways in which Inuit are responding and adapting to caribou-related change in the present, and provides insight into how Inuit see moving forward with caribou into the future. It celebrates the power of Inuit-led research, conservation, partnerships, and visions for understanding an ecological and wellbeing issue. And it celebrates Inuit self-determination, self-representation, and control over their knowledge, wisdom, lived experiences, lands, wildlife, and stories.

My role in documenting, exploring, and sharing Inuit voices has been an honour and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I was privileged to travel across the incredible Labrador landscape that so few Canadians have ever seen, visit so many communities, and work among the most resilient and inspiring people I’ve ever met. I was also truly lucky to see caribou – this single animal has taught me so much about love and loss, uncertainty and hope, and the importance of celebrating the linkages between the past, present, and future. I feel I have come to know these animals and what they symbolize for the communities living alongside them.

This film is deeply important to me, my team, and the communities that made this work possible because it shares how the decline of a species is directly tied to human culture, well-being, and sovereignty. This work also shows the power of uniting leading-edge film and research, and what this blend means for co-producing knowledge alongside communities in ways that are comprehensive, emotional, and engaging.

When watching HERD, I hope others can get a glimpse into the daily experiences of people living on the frontlines of ecological change, what the loss of an entire cultural experience can mean for younger generations, and the importance of Indigenous leadership for wildlife management and sustained connections between people and caribou into the future.