Guardians of the North begins second season

Wavelength Entertainment photo. Scenes from the series Guardians from the North, which premiered its second season in March 5.

Documentary series Guardians of the North returned for a second year on March 5, giving residents an in-depth look at the people fighting wildfires in the north.

The second season is made up of six episodes following the work wildfire emergency personnel in the La Ronge area.

“The hub of the action takes place mainly in La Ronge at the taker base and the nearby fire cache,” Jeff Stecyk, executive producer with Wavelength Entertainment, producers of the series, said in an interview with the Northern Advocate.

The series involves working with agencies including, Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) and Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management (SFNEM), according to a Saskatchewan Government news release dated Feb. 29.

Prince Albert and Muskoday First Nation fire departments are also involved in the production, Stecyk said.

The series involves getting footage while people working in wildfire situations, while keeping a safe distance and when necessary.

“Some is with crew members working; it’s at a safe distance, of course,” Stecyk said. They work in coordination with the organizations, but  also provide cameras to some of the characters when necessary so that “they get footage and they’ll capture some of the footage provided it doesn’t interfere with anything,” he said.

The production also involves conducting interviews with “the individual characters so they can discuss their feelings and their lives,” which is part of the stories.

There’s the beauty of the surrounding area – and, “not so beautiful” fire footage, that all come into play.

Safety is always at the forefront, meaning film crews keep their distance when necessary.

Wavelength Entertainment has been doing this kind of series along with TV shows, documentary, lifestyle, reality, history, science and “anything you can think of” for more than 20 years, Stecyk said.

When they first investigated the idea of doing the series, it was well received is now carrying on into its second season.

“We assessed that we needed to do the project from these organizations; we decided to go ahead, and it was well received,” Stecyk said.

When they started developing the first season episodes, they held a “big screening event in Regina … it was very well received and as a result the audience grew,” he said.

Filming can take anywhere from one to two weeks per episode, “depending on how much content really,” Stecyk added.

It involves the amount of content, “they have to sit through the footage and figure out how to structure [it], how to write the script, and then they can start editing, but that’s generally five to 10 days per episode. That’s a lot of work.”

“This riveting docuseries provides a deeper understanding of the work involved and dangers faced by first responders in northern Saskatchewan. The tireless dedication of wildland firefighters and First Nation responders, as well as the coordinated effort of SPSA and its partner agencies, is key to protecting the people of Saskatchewan from wildfires,” Paul Merriman, minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety said in a news release.

2023 saw unprecedented wildfire activity across Canada. It has been remarkable telling the stories of those dedicated brave individuals tasked with protecting human life, communities and resources throughout Saskatchewan’s north, Chris Triffo, a producer with Wavelength Entertainment, said the news release.

Guardians of the North received a $280,000 grant for the second season production, according to the news release.

SPSA is a Crown agency providing public safety services, which includes fire safety training, investigation, emergency planning, response,  recovery and emergency communications and SPSA operates Sask911, SaskAlert and the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.

Creative Saskatchewan is the Saskatchewan government’s economic development agency.