Three youth found an outlet for their stories when they took part in filmmaking workshops as part of the imagineNATIVE Northern Ontario Film + Video Tour 2012.
The eighth annual northern tour travelled to 13 communities in Ontario over seven weeks, screening a youth program of eight films and a feature presentation of Wapoose Bay, an animation film in each place.
Tour coordinator Violet Chum, a Moose Cree member, said the tour is a way for residents of the north to view films made by Aboriginal filmmakers.
“We’re just trying to get it more accessible to northern communities for those who can’t make it to the festival every year,” Chum said.
As part of the tour, youth filmmaking workshops took place in several communities, including Thunder Bay, where the tour stopped on Mar. 14-16.
The workshop had the youth learn about screenwriting, shot planning, shooting, and editing over two days and their final products were screened as part of the tour’s youth program.
“I really enjoy it, going out and taking pictures,” said Martin McKay, a 16-year-old who is a member of Sachigo Lake First Nation. “It gave me a place to talk about my Native experience.”
McKay made a film about the social stigma he perceives of being an “urban Native” compared to a “reserve Native.” In a voiceover, he talks about how he has never lived on his reserve and does not speak the Oji-Cree language and how he is mocked by those living on the reserve.
“It’s about the same people separating each other from each other,” McKay said of the story. His main message was: “Accept each other. We’re all the same people.”
It is a sentiment shared by 20-year-old Erland Missewace of Eabametoong First Nation. He also did not live on the reserve, and in his film, he talked about a friend who discriminated him because of his urban upbringing, which was reflected in the way he talked and dressed.
“I felt like it was an important story to tell because racism isn’t a good thing,” Missewace said. “The main message is that you should be more open-minded and accepting of where they’re raised, how they’re raised and where they come from, and what they bring to the table.”
For 25-year-old Angel Desmoulin of Pic Mobert First Nation, she wanted to educate her people on Aboriginal history. Using archival photos and ones she photographed herself, Desmoulin talked about the Indian Act, Canadian constitution, and how Aboriginal children were sent to residential schools.
“Our people should understand these things in order to feel more drive to changes within themselves,” she said. “Because I want our people to start changing and bringing back our heritage.”
The workshop proved to educational of the filmmaking process, as the youth had to write, edit and shoot within a span a two-days.
“The editing is so much more intense more than I thought it would be,” Missewace said. “Doing it as a hobby, I can just do it as I want and leave it as is, but I wanted make it to perfection because this is something for the public.”
All three youth were nervous as their films were about to be screened.
“I was shy, I wanted to run away,” Desmoulin said.
In the end, it proved to be satisfying experience for all three.
“I felt great that somebody watched it other than me or my parents,” McKay said with a laugh.
“I felt good after knowing it’s going to get out there and there’ll be people seeing it,” Desmoulin said.
Missewace said he enjoyed taking part in the workshop.
“This has been the first time I’ve done something like this,” he said. “I know that film production is something I want to pursue as career. It opened my eyes.”
The tour began Feb. 21 in Timmins and travelled to northern and urban communities Moosonee, Moose Factory, Wikwemikong, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. It concludes Apr. 3-5 in Fort Albany First Nation.
Chum said the tour has been a successful and continues to grow each year.
“Before we started the tour, we’ve been getting requests from people wanting us to come to their community and other stops, but usually they have to book in advance,” she said.
“It’s been great visiting the communities and meeting new people, and working with the youth.”
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