In a first-ever showing outside of the Cariboo of the documentary Squaw Hall: A Community Remembers and a filmed version of their play Damned if You Do; What if you Don’t, three teenage aboriginal film makers from Williams Lake made the long trek to Vancouver for an Oct. 29 screening. The next day Raeanne Elkins, Larissa Myers and Taylor Myers presented a copy of the film to Lieutenant-Governor Steven L. Point.
About 50 people attended the film screening at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. This was followed by a lively discussion and question and answer session. Earlier in the day the youth from Williams Lake participated in the Burning Issues workshop facilitated by Nicola Harwood, formerly of Williams Lake. The intent of the workshop was to explore the issues of building connections between youth and elders. During a reception at the Carnegie Community Centre on Oct. 30, the three young filmmakers were given a private audience with Point.
It was on this occasion that Taylor Myers presented a copy of Squaw Hall: A Community Remembers to Point on behalf of her group.
“I was nervous,” Taylor admits. “Steven Point told us he had a personal interest in the Chilcotin War, and that he was currently studying it.”
Larissa Myers says the trip to Vancouver to screen the film, take part in the Heart of the City Celebration, and meet Point was a huge honour. “It was an amazing experience meeting new people,” she says. “I would like to do it again.”
Raeanne Elkins, who has been working with aboriginal film maker Helen Haig-Brown since producing the Squaw Hall documentary, was interviewed by CBC radio broadcaster Sheryl MacKay prior to the screening. She said she learned a lot about her own culture and heritage by being part of the project.
“I learned there is a lot of common ground between the Tsilhqot’in and the Shuswap. The filmmaking experience has helped me get an idea of where I want to go.”
The film screening and workshop were part of the Heart of the City celebrations taking place in Vancouver from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, produced by Vancouver Moving Theatre. While in Vancouver the three Grade 12 students from Williams Lake got to check out the haunted house on the PNE grounds, attend the aboriginal artist showcase in the Carnegie Centre, and take in the play Us and Them at the Cultch before heading home Monday.
The Squaw Hall Project was co-produced by urban ink, a theatre company in the downtown east side, and Twin Fish Theatre Collective of Nelson.
The youth’s participation was facilitated by aboriginal community liaison for urban ink, Rosemary Georgeson and general manager Cathy McDonald.