Shin-chi's Canoe

Shin-chis Canoe

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English + Halq'emalem with English subtitles

Based on the children's book Shin-chi's Canoe by Nicola Campbell, this short fiction film is set in the early 1960's. Seven year-old Shin-chi is to leave home and attend is first year at an Indian Residential School. Shin-Chi and his older sister, Shi-Shi-etko must say good-by to their Yayah (grandmother) and their mother and father. While the children wait for the truck to come and pick them up they ask their father to build them their very own canoe for the next summer.

Loaded onto a truck with other children, they finally arrive at the school. Before the brother and sister are separated and forbidden to speak to each other for the next 10 months, Shi-shi-etko hands Shin-chi a tiny cedar canoe that was carved by their father. At night Shin-chi can't sleep and he holds the canoe to his face and the sweet smell of cedar reminds him of his father. He remembers that his dad told him that when the sockeye salmon come in the summertime, that's when he can go home again.

Over the next several months Shin-chi tries to adjust to the residential school's strict routine of religious devotion, work, and classes. Shin-chi is always hungry, so with a new friend, he steals food. When the day finally arrives that the children can return home, their father greets them with their very own cedar canoe that they longed for.

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