Know I'm Here (film title)

In a moment of crisis for the subarctic town of Churchill, Manitoba, Kal Barteski brings together artists from around the world to paint massive murals on the town’s neglected buildings, to bring hope and awareness.

Kal Barteski
Kal Barteski at her mural, during SeaWalls Churchill. (photo: Reid Valmestad)

Know I’m Here is documentary that follows artist Kal Barteski as she organizes a massive art project in the subarctic town of Churchill, Manitoba. Motivated by the closing of the town’s port, the loss of jobs, and effects of climate change, Kal invites 18 artists from around the world to paint murals as a way of helping the community.

But, those goals become tested.

Just days before the art festival, an unexpected crisis strikes. Spring floods wash out the rail line and cut off Churchill’s lifeline to the south. Getting food and supplies becomes a daily challenge. The American company that owns the rail is in a stand off with the Canadian government. The remote community becomes trapped and more isolated than ever.

Churchill residents call for action at the rail line (film still: Know I’m Here)

As the town deals with stresses and looks for solutions, Kal and the artists work to create and do what great art does: offer recognition and reflect a particular moment in time. These massive works of art transform the landscape and bring hope and recognition to a community feeling forgotten.


Photo of artist brushes

You can learn more about the festival organizers and find the full list of the artists involved on the SeaWalls Churchill website.

The SeaWalls Churchill festival was a massive volunteer effort, coordinated and curated by Kal Barteski, in cooperation with PangeaSeed Foundation, a large community of talented artists, generous partners, dedicated volunteers, and of course the Town of Churchill itself.


If you would like to receive updates about this documentary, and when it will be available online, sign up here.

Send me updates


The town of Churchill has a long history in the story of Canada, including scientific research, military training, the Hudson's Bay Company. Polar bears and beluga whales visit every year in the unique ecology where the boreal forest meets the Arctic tundra and the Hudson Bay. The Hudson Bay railway was built between the two world wars, connecting Churchill to the rest of the province and opening new possibilities with Canada's only mainland deepwater Arctic port.

KAL BARTESKI is a Canadian artist with a love for Churchill, Manitoba. Passionate about polar bears, sea ice and environmental health, she is the coordinator and curator of SeaWalls CHURCHILL. The creator of the POLAR BEAR FUND, she likes her coffee black and her projects meaningful.

"SeaWalls Churchill was created with the intention to educate and inspire a community to protect the oceans, but what transpired was more powerful than that. It was the story of a devastated small town on the edge of the Arctic being reminded of their own value and worthiness in this world."


On Location


I feel blessed & fortunate to have attended the debut of the documentary. This was by far the best portrayal of the people of Churchill.
Well done! Knowing that we are not alone, that we are really worth something to others, makes all the difference in the world to us!
…a beautiful blend of struggle and light. And you captured all of the beauty in between. A gorgeous compilation.
The thing that struck me the most was seeing how much we’ve lost: Caroline, Gypsy’s, the train, etc. and how much we’ve gained: The murals, the support from communities south of us, the strengthened bonds/sense of community that being under siege creates. People who don’t live here won’t pick up all of those nuances, but they will hopefully go away with a glimpse.


Produced by Elbert Bakker, Raymond Friesen, and Lisanne Pajot
Handcraft Creative

Matthew Schellenberg Christine Fellows Rob Knaggs Tansy

Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit