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About this site

The aim of Footprints: Environment and the Way We Live is to present films and teaching material that explore, document and bring to light various environmental problems Canadians have been facing for over half a century. Some Canadian films on the subject date back to 1928! The site also aims to illustrate and explain the unbreakable ties between Canadians’ social and cultural lives and their environment; to expose the environmental problems facing the people, wildlife and plants of Canada; and to help teachers present the issues linked to the relationship between our culture and our environment in a dynamic and easily understood form, while meeting the objectives of school curricula. The site targets high school and college students as well as other Canadians and consists of an English and a French part.

Films, excerpts, archival artefacts plus much more!
The site features 124 films from the NFB collection (57 in French, 4 without words and 63 in English in the English part of the site). This selection consists of documentaries, dramas and animation, from which 191 film excerpts (95 in English, 2 without words and 94 in French) were taken. Of those, 38 films (15 in English, 3 without words and 15 in French) include described video for the vision-impaired; 48 films (26 in English, 22 in French) are available with closed captioning for the hearing-impaired viewers.

The site is complemented by more than 30 items from the NFB archives and from a partner (audio material, stockshots, photos, etc.), as well as several interview clips.

These 124 films are only a fraction of NFB titles on the environment, however, they are a representative sample of the NFB’s output on this subject since the Film Board’s creation. They include propaganda films as well as more critical or personal works on a subject that has grown more and more topical over the last few years. The films paint a fascinating, multi-faceted portrait of the way we live and above all survive in a world that will become endangered if we do not rein in our environmental depredations.

Some people may be surprised at the omission of well-known works from our list. In some cases we were unable to obtain online broadcast rights for all the films we wished to include; and since the project is supported by the Canadian Memory Fund, we had to leave aside some newer works to give pride of place to those of high heritage value.
How the site is organized
Footprints: Environment and the Way We Live is divided into six sections: Issues at Stake; Stakeholders; The NFB and the Environment; See Everything, Hear Everything, For Teachers and Terms and Concepts.

The first section, entitled Issues at Stake, focuses on the main issues and questions in the relationship between culture and environment, exposing the environmental problems that threaten the well-being, traditions, customs and culture of Canadians. It also looks at the country’s flora and fauna, whose survival seems increasingly to be in the balance, and explores how this situation came about and how Canadians’ attitudes towards it have changed.

The second section, Stakeholders, attempts to portray the intricate ties between Canadians’ social, political, economic and cultural lives and their environment. It illustrates the actions of a variety of stakeholders in Canadian society, shows the impact those actions have on the environment, explains the stakeholders’ responsibilities and demonstrates the role they play. It presents the views of young people and experts in a range of fields, individually or in groups, who explore Canadians’ relationship with their environment.

The third section, The NFB and the Environment, explores the backdrop against which the films have been made, the role they have played, the messages they have conveyed and the points of view filmmakers have expressed.

The fourth section, See Everything, Hear Everything, gives users access to all the material available on the site, including films, film excerpts, archives (audio clips, stockshots, photos, etc.), filmed interviews, articles by specialists, and opinion pieces from the general public (vox populi).

The fifth section, For Teachers, provided three types of educational resources: 1 general lesson plan, Culture and Environment, for the site as a whole; 1 lesson plan for the Players section; and 6 lesson plans for specific films.

The last section, Terms and Concepts, puts the ideas into context with an expert text on the various environmental trends, visions and approaches. It also provides a glossary to help users understand environmental and cultural concepts, and how they complement one another.

On the homepage of the site a promotional space was created so users can access downloadable content and other NFB sites that probe environmental issues.

Finally, through a few sections in the site, users are able to access complementary resources such as references, Web links and a list of other NFB films related to environmental issues.

Our major focus is on the complete films, but we also include film excerpts as an easy introduction to each section. The excerpts allow teachers, students and other users to quickly pinpoint specific content – the issues raised in each theme, specialist viewpoints, or thoughts on the environment and the human impact.

Clearly, we cannot claim to cover every aspect related to this vast subject, describe every issue, raise every question. Footprints: Environment and the Way We Live does, however, provide an excellent introduction to the subject for anyone interested in environmental issues and their effects on Canadians and the world.

We encourage users to visit two other sites our team has built with support from the Canadian Memory Fund, which also deal with environmental issues:

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