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Season two of Guardians of the North launches

Screening took place at Kramer IMAX in Regina for Guardians of the North - Season Two, focusing on the active wildfire season of 2023

REGINA - A second season of the reality-based Guardians of the North docuseries is about to hit the air.

At an event at Kramer IMAX on Thursday, all those involved in producing, participating and financing the series celebrated a special screening to launch Guardians of the North, Season 2. The new season is scheduled to air on March 5 at 10 p.m. on Citytv Saskatchewan. 

Guardians of the North is the true-life series following the dedicated firefighters from Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency and the Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management who fight wildfires in the province’s North. 

This season will feature six episodes, with a focus on the unprecedented wildfire season facing the province in 2023.

That was accomplished through the financial support of Creative Saskatchewan and with the cooperation of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency in the production. Wavelength Entertainment produces the series, which received an investment of $280,000 from Creative Saskatchewan's Feature Film and TV Production grant for the new season. Creative Saskatchewan estimates this will result in $1.2 million in economic impacts for Saskatchewan. 

The production looks to build on the momentum of a strong first year, which saw audiences grow quickly week after week to follow the exploits of Saskatchewan fire crews battling wildfires. 

"I think what worked in season one is the brave individuals we followed that were tasked with protecting the North, and we wanted to follow them into season two," said Wavelength Entertainment Producer Chris Triffo. 

“It was an unprecedented fire season. There were hundreds of fires, the North was on fire, and it was great to be able to follow these men and women as they protected communities and protected resources."

The show again will spotlight the stories of the real-life personalities making up the personnel that do battle with wildfires up north as part of their regular jobs. 

Returning to the series is Avery Legare, the fire base supervisor with the SPSA who was also seen during the first season. He noted the “extreme conditions” seen during 2023 were the worst he had seen in the 15 years he had been fighting fires all over Canada. 

“It was a challenge every day with smoke and hot conditions. The winds were high, and you didn’t know what you were going to get from day to day.”

Watching the show, Legare said you have “a lot of respect for the people on the ground that are out there every day… you respect the men and women that are on the ground fighting. They are the ones right out there in the extreme conditions.” He also pointed to the work that goes on behind the scenes as well.

The second season promises to be even more dramatic than the first because of the severity of the 2023 fire season, with major wildfires breaking out especially early during the month of May.

That had sent the Wavelength Entertainment production crew scrambling into action weeks earlier than expected to capture the incredible fire scenes that unfolded, including near the communities at Deschambault Lake and Besnard Lake.

“It caught us as a crew off-guard. I think SPSA was ready for it,” said Triffo, who expects fire seasons to happen earlier in the future. “So we had to get up to speed very quickly, a month earlier, to try and capture some of the exciting action that happened in May.”

Logistically, in many ways things went more smoothly than in season one. Triffo said that for the first season, “we were getting our footing on such a large organization, and for season two we knew what we were going after.”

Firefighters were again equipped with small cameras that started filming when they were out in action. The main difference in this season, Triffo said, was in the storylines and the scale of the operation they were capturing on film.

“There were, I think, a lot more communities at risk,” said Triffo of the second season. “There were a lot more firefighters at the base we were at because it was such an unprecedented year. So we had a lot more storylines up in the air, and that was what you’ll find different about this year is the simple intensity of the amount of fires, and seeing the in and outs of what it takes to marshall hundreds of individuals, to attack the fires and put them out.”

Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Paul Merriman was on hand for the screening, and he particularly welcomed the spotlight on the work of the SPSA. 

“You ca see the amazing team, they have, the amazing work that they do, the professionalism, the structure, the team they’ve been able to build up, and I believe from my perspective, they have the confidence of the province to be able to deal with any situation, whether it’s fires or floods, or any situation.” 

Merriman also welcomes the spotlight on the stories of the province’s North, and welcomed Creative Saskatchewan being able to get those stories developed and showcased. “All the great stories that are behind the scenes in Saskatchewan are being told by groups like Creative Saskatchewan.”

As for Legare, he admits he’s getting more recognition on the street from people who tune into the show.

“A lot of people recognize me now, which is kind of cool. Yeah, it’s a little different. People are always asking if the next season is coming back and if they’re going to film again.”

As for whether they will be filming a Season Three, that has not been confirmed yet, but those involved say it will depend on how enthusiastic viewers are for Season Two.