Short films made by Eke Me-Xi students were celebrated at the Wakas Hall on a big screen in front of a crowd of roughly 100 people who came out to show support and enjoy a delicious dinner next to family and friends.
The short films were put together during a week-long workshop with help from Our World film mentors who came from all over BC to provide guidance.
According to Our World’s website, its mandate is “to partner with First Nations communities to provide access to media arts training as a means of empowerment through artistic & cultural expression, and to integrate First Nations language and culture into films as a way to heal the past, claim the present and move forward into the future with pride of identity. While the focus is on sparking interest in filmmaking with youth, Our World also encourages adults and elders to participate.”
Lisa Nielson, from Vancouver, is a mentor and producer of the films, and said the youth had final say on how they came out. “We have animators, filmmakers, and storytellers to provide the technical means, but the students are ultimately the directors and were completely hands on from the story, to the filming, to the editing.”
Kayle Walkus-Williams, a Grade 11 student at Eke Me-Xi, collaborated with his partner Haley Scow on a film called ‘The Legend of Tsulquate River’.
“Me and my partner chose to do ours on the legend of the river here,” said Walkus-Williams. “It’s about a boy and his father and how they came to the river and were told they would get supernatural powers.”
Walkus-Williams noted it’s based off a Kwakiutl legend, and it took them roughly a week to make film with the help of the mentors. “The first time I heard about the legend was in class, and hearing about it brought back a lot of childhood memories cause I grew up here. I’m pretty proud of it, it’s my first film.”
Scow added the project was half animation, half real footage. “Kayle did some of the animating and after he finished his part he said I could do some animating while he did the editing.”
Scow added she’s debating about a career in filmmaking and wants to attend Emily Carr in the future, adding, “I’m really pleased with how the film came out, especially with it being our first time animating.”
North Island College student Roberta Williams’ short film ’There is Hope’ was a very personal one which detailed her life story and how she overcame personal struggles through celebrating her culture.
“It’s kind of nerve wracking,” she laughed. “Everyone seeing it — I’m really a closed book and now everyone’s going to know me on another level.”
This was Williams’ fifth film, her first one was made in high school in 2014, and she sees herself continuing to make films and dabble in photography.
Our World’s connection with Tsulquate:
Filmmaking mentors created films with the Tsulquate community in 2011 and 2013 around the themes of Kwakwaka’wakw language and culture in conjunction with the feature documentary How a People Live, directed by Our World mentor Lisa Jackson. The community enjoyed making their own films so much that in March 2014 Our World conducted the first official workshop.
The Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre (established in 1997) provides educational programs in the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw community for secondary students from the Port Hardy area.
The welcoming and family atmosphere at Eke Me-Xi encourages personal growth, self-worth, pride, responsibility and integrity.
The program is specially designed to allow students to engage in their learning and to participate in setting their own goals and dreams in a cultural setting. Part of the Eke Me-Xi curriculum is implementing Kwak’wala language and culture and thus Our World’s workshop fits right into these teachings.
See all of the students films at https://www.ourworldlanguage.ca/tsulquate/