This is a story of a people dispossessed, deep historic wounds, and still unresolved conflict between Indigenous people, governments in Canada and industry. It's a story of the struggles of two First Nations in the Carrier territory of north central British Columbia, Canada, for land and sovereignty, for healing and revitalization. The DVD is structured into "chapters" of three 30-minute documentaries, and it comes with an extensive discussion guide.
Chapter 1, The Contagion of Colonization, looks at the historical circumstances, including the settlement of the west, Canada's Indian Act and the Residential School system. It provides the background on how these First Nations people find themselves in the situations they face today.
Chapter 2, High Noon at Burns Lake, tells the story of the Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation, or Burns Lake Band. Its people have been in conflict with the Village of Burns Lake over appropriated lands for almost a hundred years, a conflict that culminated in the municipality shutting off water and sewerage services to their Reserve in the year 2000. This led to a ruling in favour of the Band by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Chapter 3, Keeping Our Heads Above Water, tells the story of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, whose people were evicted from their homeland in 1952 by Alcan's hydroelectric project. Today, they are still struggling to "keep their heads above water," culturally and economically.
This is 21st century Canada, and the story of two communities-colonizers and the colonized. It's a story with a question mark. After almost a century of apartheid in this region, the film asks: Is there a way forward?
Discussion guide sample available for download here:
For us, as non-indigenous film makers, this was a profound journey of learning and discovery during which we formed life-changing and life-long relationships with some of the Cheslatta and Ts'il Kaz Koh people. It was a shocking, depressing, painful, and also exhilarating and inspiring journey. Our hope, along with the Chiefs of these two First Nations whose stories we have been entrusted to tell, is that over time, this film will contribute to a reconciliation process that involves not just a change in relationships but also in the return of land and sovereignty to First Nations in Canada.
For more information: www.facebook.com/FINDING.OUR.WAY.thefilm