‘Discovering the truth, understanding that truth and giving voice to Indigenous people:’ through film.
By Isabella West, Arts Editor
National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a time to honour the strength and resilience both survivors and intergenerational survivors have endured because of the residential school system. As Sept. 30 approaches, many businesses, organizations and citizens are searching for ways to support and listen to the Indigenous communities.
Fort Calgary is historically known as a site of colonial occupation. However, the museum is striving to be a place of learning and understanding, where Indigenous Peoples’ stories and experiences are heard.
“Something that’s really important here at Fort Calgary is looking at our past, sharing and discovering the truth, understanding that truth and giving voice to Indigenous people in the arts and culture community who have something to say,” says Rebekah Jarvis, director of community engagement.
Films at the Fort started with a film series called Shot in Alberta, featuring films that were, well, shot in Alberta. Following their first film series, Fort Calgary saw a need for Indigenous representation at the museum, especially throughout the month of September leading up to National Truth and Reconciliation Day. From this, they developed the Indigenous Film Series.
“We chose September for the Indigenous Film Series as we lead up to September 30th and Orange Shirt Day and International Peoples Day,” says Jarvis.
Films that were included in the lineup were Night Raiders, Rosie, The Saver, Kayak to Klemtu and Bones of Crows — all of which feature Indigenous cast members and themes that are created by Canadian filmmakers.
The film that will be screened on National Truth and Reconciliation Day is Bones of Crows. The film is about Aline Spears, a Cree code talker’s journey of surviving Canadian residential schools. Spears is inspired to persevere in order to continue her family’s generational fight against systemic starvation, racism and sexual abuse.
“It truly is about the residential school experience and the horrors [and] the atrocities that happened during that time,” says Jarvis. “We will also have trauma support people on site for that [film] because it is dealing with some challenging topics on a very difficult day.”
Michelle Thrush, who plays January Spears in the film will be present at the screening as a guest speaker.
“Thrush has said it’s been only the last 20 years that Indigenous people have been able to tell their truth through their own stories, though she credits such luminaries as Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene for kicking down the doors for Indigenous people in the industry,” as quoted in Thrush’s biography.
As part of their programming for Orange Shirt Day, Fort Calgary is not charging a fee for this screening. However, tickets are being reserved quickly so people are encouraged to reserve sooner rather than later.
Tickets are available on Eventbrite.