A new documentary featuring Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad and her family’s struggle to heal from the impacts of attending St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School near Williams Lake is making its debut as Canada marks its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30.
Canadian Geographic Film’s first feature-length documentary Returning Home premiered on Monday, Sept. 27, at the University of British Columbia Chan Centre.
Webstad, who attended the screening, said it went well.
“It had a good response and it was good to have my mom Rose Wilson and aunts Agnes Jack and Theresa Jack here with me and the producer,” Wesbstad said. “We had a couple 100 people watching and had a panel discussion afterwards.”
The film’s director and producer Sean Stiller said the film will be shown at international film festivals in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and the Lunenburg Documentary Festival.
“It’s our first wave of submissions, but we are hoping it will play in other parts of Canada, in the U.S. and hopefully in Europe.”
Stiller said he felt good after Monday’s showing.
“Phyllis and her mom and her two aunts who were in the film approved of the film and thought it was well done. That meant a lot for me to hear.”
The film also delves into the plight of the pacific salmon and Spiller said when he first put together the concept of marrying salmon with Webstad’s story of trauma he did not know exactly how they would meet.
“It was a bit of an experiment honestly, but I feel good that it was able to come together.”