Paddling to prestigious Indigenous film festival

Landing in Nisqually - photo supplied by Glwa film

Landing in Nisqually – photo supplied by Glwa film

Collaborative film about Heiltsuk canoe culture accepted to prestigious Indigenous film festival      

BELLA BELLA, B.C. AND WINNIPEG, M.B. – A documentary film co-produced by the Heiltsuk Nations’ Tribal Council and University of Winnipeg was accepted into ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, which is the largest Indigenous film festival in the world.

The film, called Glwa: Resurgence of the Ocean-Going Canoe, documents the story of the Heiltsuk Nation’s resurgence over the last three decades through an annual Indigenous gathering on the Pacific Coast called Tribal Canoe Journeys.

“Over the last three decades, Tribal Journeys have revitalized and strengthened our Nation,” said Heiltsuk co-producer Frank Brown. “This film captures that story and helps us share it with the world.”

“Our resurgence and connection to the sea is a part of our identity, we are seafaring people and decolonization offers different pathways in offering revitalization to our water based cultural practices. The canoe journey has been a part of our resurgence ,” says Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Tribal Council.

The film was created through a unique collaboration between Frank Brown, Heiltsuk and Nuu-Chah-Nulth scholar Vina Brown (co-director), and non-Indigenous Winnipeg-based researchers Hillary Beattie (co-director) and Dr. Ian Mauro (co-producer), an Associate Professor at University of Winnipeg.

“Our story is being told authentically, from our perspective,” said co-director Vina Brown who planned the film as part of her capstone project at Northwest Indian College where she now works. “This film has been guided and developed by our people, it’s reconciliation in action”.

Each stage of the filmmaking process – from planning and shooting to editing and distributing – was overseen by Heiltsuk community members with support from their academic partners.

The film was created, in part, as an outcome of Beattie’s Master of Environment degree at the University of Manitoba, which Mauro is co-advising.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to work with the Heiltsuk on this documentary,” co-director Hillary Beattie said. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn about Indigenous rights, Heiltsuk culture, and community filmmaking.”

Beattie and Mauro started working together when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Winnipeg. Their collaboration with the Heiltsuk began in 2015 as part of Mauro’s ongoing ocean research funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

“Working with Frank, Vina and Hillary has been exceptional”, co-producer Ian Mauro said. “It’s very humbling to have the film accepted to ImagineNATIVE, we’re all very excited to share this important story.”

The festival runs from October 18th – 22nd, 2017 in Toronto. The film is being distributed by VTAPE.

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