Canada Bridges helps Treaty 7 teens express themselves through film

Canada Bridges and aboriginal youth have teamed up this year in Siksika Nation to inspire and accomplish community success.

The non-profit organization aimed at social development and youth empowerment has recently finished facilitating a filmmaking and story-telling workshop that ran from July 21 – 25.

produced by Kelsey Solway

Thirteen youth developed their own script, then planned and shot a movie within five days. They were cast into roles such as directors, writers, editors, actors and sound and camera operators. Their hardships and collaborations resulted in a short film called “28 Moons Later.”

Disa Crowchief, a Siksika youth councillor, was an assistant director of the short film and attendee of the workshop. Crowchief said that it gave her a different perspective and a look into a new industry.

“It’s important to finally show how far we have come and what First Nations are capable of,” Crowchief said. “We can use filmmaking to our advantage and benefit our communities with the encouragement from putting our accomplishments out there.”

Crow Chief said that it was the encouragement from Bridges that made the process fun and educational:

“I met new people and had a lot of fun playing the role as the assistant director. I gained knowledge on many different areas that really interested me, such as writing and interviewing. The people from Canada Bridges were very fun and helpful to work with.”

Joel Mitchell, an actor who plays a zombie in ’28 Moons Later’, poses on set.

Photo by Kelsey SolwayDouglas Winnipeg, a CTV master control operator who is also from Siksika was invited as a mentor for the youth to show them how to use light and the camera setup.

“I thought that it was good. It’s a positive activity for these youth, something to let them stretch themselves creatively. They all learned something about the industry,” Winnipeg said.

Winnipeg spoke positively of the Canada Bridges organization when asked about their involvement with Siksika Nation.

“I think they did a good job providing support of the local events on Siksika. Their involvement helped improve these events.”

The short film was screened at the Siksika Nation Run as One Conference on August 6th where over 100 youth and community members from Treaty 7 attended.

Jennifer Kohlhammer, executive director of Canada Bridges, believes the power of storytelling through a variety of media can break down social barriers between First Nations and the rest of Canada.

Cast and crew on a break during filming. The premise is how Siksika deals with a zombie apocalypse.

Photo by Kelsey Solway“Stories transform people and transform communities,” said Kohlhammer. “Racism is a huge issue, still in Canada. That is something gradually being chipped away at because of the understanding that is being created through storytelling.”

Kohlhammer said that exploring storytelling through videography and filmmaking is a great way to get their message out to the public:

“People are less likely to read stories and more likely to watch stories. We create our own films and use films to encourage youth to share and improve personal community and change leadership.”

Canada Bridges was founded in 2003 for the purpose of capacity-building and training with the community in Yemen. At the time of its formation it was focused on building human potential to train leaders in governmental tasks.

Since then, it has transitioned into working directly with communities in the Calgary area, engaging youth towards practices of change leadership and social entrepreneurship.

A large focus in the past four years is working with Treaty 7 reserves and building relationships with local leaders and aspiring youth to create strategies unveiling potential.

Provincially, they work on creating strategies and goals for people to help themselves and their communities. They plan to continue these filmmaking workshops in 2015.

ksolway@cjournal.ca