What does it take to save a species at risk?
The new documentary, Toad People, by filmmakers Isabelle Groc and Michael McKinley of Wilderness Committee, explores that very question.
With its world film premiere on Wednesday in Vancouver, the film focuses the lens on some local protectors of tiny toads and screeching barn owls in Chilliwack, and much more.
So what does it take given that there are 1900 endangered species in B.C.?
The Progress put that question to the filmmaker Isabelle Groc:
“It takes people like Steve Clegg and his family and neighbours in Ryder Lake who are very passionate about the struggle to help species at risk in their backyards,” she said.
“It takes a tremendous amount of care — and legislation.”
Steve Clegg couldn’t help but notice the astounding western toad migrations in the hills of Ryder Lake, as he grew up with them in his backyard. He became aware of their specific conservation challenges, and started volunteering on the Ryder Lake Amphibian project of Fraser Valley Conservancy in 2008, conducting nighttime migration inventories and more.
He’s been part of the effort locally to decrease the number of toad mortalities, which saw the crowning glory of an amphibian tunnel built by FVC and partners under a Ryder Lake road two years ago.
The doc Toad People makes the case for standalone species-at-risk legislation, given its status as the province with the highest levels of biodiversity in the country.
“This documentary tells the story of these people faced with an issue in their community,” said Groc. “They noticed that something was wrong and decided to do something about it, and we follow what happens as they try to change the fate of the species, their struggles and the realization as the film progresses that everyone struggles because there is no endangered species legislation specifically for species at risk in B.C.
Toward the end, it’s a call to action.
“All these people need help.”
The film Toad People is set to open with a special premiere panel event, on Nov. 30 in Vancouver. Doors open at 6:30 pm, film starts at 7. SFU Woodwards, 149 W Hastings. $10. Reserve: toadpeople.bpt.me
Filmmakers Isabelle Groc & Mike McKinlay will be joined Wilderness director Joe Foy, and Carrielynn Victor of Sto:lo Tribal Council and researcher Kai Chan of UBC for an engaging evening with Q&A about species at risk.
There are plans to screen Toad People again at a later date, in Chilliwack as well as part of the Interior, Vancouver Island and Northern B.C.