A documentary film, that should surely become part of school curriculum, and required viewing for all peoples right across this Country, Canada, premiered at The Galaxy Cinema on Monday, Sept.8th,2015. Nanabozhung is a feature length documentary film shot in Batchewana First Nation territory.
Directed by Lisa Williams (United Kingdom), Produced by the award winning screen writer and producer, Guy Hibbert (U.K) and financed by Maureen De Pietro, (DP Energy Solicitor and Director, Ireland), Nanabozhung lifts the viewer into the sweeping landscape and stories of Batchewana First Nation. Nanabozhung encompasses traditional lands including Gargantua Harbour, Lake Superior.
“We wanted to show it (Nanabozhung) to you first. The community of Batchewana First Nation, before it is shown anywhere else. You are the most important audience.” shared Guy Hibbert at the Galaxy Cinema premier of Nanabozhung on Sept. 8th.
“40 – 50 hours of material, and many months of editing in London U.K., brought Nanabozhung to life with this 80 minute feature length documentary.” said Guy Tibbert. “From here, we will begin taking Nanabozhung to Film Festivals right across the world, sharing the story of Batchewana First Nation.”
Maureen DePietro, who worked in partnership with Batchewana First Nation to develop Bow Lake Wind Farm and was present for the premier screening shared “I was so impressed with the way they (BFN) think about the earth. If only the rest of us looked after our environment the way they have. If we could all see land the way First Nation peoples see it, the earth wouldn’t be suffering from such problems as climate change, environmental destruction and extensive trauma to our natural world. I knew I had to tell this story.”
Speaking to the gathered people prior to the films’ premier, Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayer said “We are 1/2 land and 1/2 sky. We lived in harmony with our land. It’s about ‘use of land’, not ‘ownership of land’. The land owns us. We do not own the land.”
And so, with a notion of an idea from Maureen De Pietro, together with Batchewana First Nation and a film crew from The United Kingdom Nanabozhung sprang to life on the big screen, with an audience of invited guests, largely represented by the community from whence the stories came.
Told through the lens of history and present day, Nanabozhung takes the viewer on a journey that seeks to tell the truth. The truth about land claims, treaties, and the historical importance of interpretation of those documents. “There is disparity in interpretation.” is shared by Chief Sayers at one point in the film. With over 600 First Nation Reserves, in Canada, the legacy of this disparity in interpretation of treaties written in 1850, has led to stories told, and untold, of deeply wounded people.
At times during the film, a person is moved to tears and at times moved to ‘A Call to Action’. “Canada has swamped our Canoe” shared Chief Sayers in the film. “We have lost a lot. There are only 14 speakers left (Anishinabek) to tell our ancient stories. Out of necessity we need to educate all Canadians about our history. This new perspective will help to show Canadians that we are not a threat. And then our Canoe will go down the river of life with all of our things in it. We have to look beyond these artificial boundaries of land rights. The Land owns us. We have the colour of right.”
A rising star in this film has to be Teddy Syrette. His voice is a powerful call in the wilderness to young people. He speaks eloquently about the legacy of residential schools and the impact that the sum total of trauma, as served by Indian Agents, Churches and Canadian policies have had, and continue to bleed through first nation communities. Minds that are shattered by memories too much to bear. Hearts too broken to share love and receive love. Young people who did not know a loving embrace from a parent or caregiver. A generation lost to cruel indifference. Teddy’s voice is one of gentle advocate. With a sincere and authentic voice he speaks for First Nation youth and youth in the LGBTQ community as well. Teddy Syrette is an advocate for change.
Nanabozhung features Batchewana First Nation elders, children, fishermen and women, Wind Farm developers, timber harvesters, educators, and more. We learn of a people who continue to live, play, honour tradition, and teach their children well. A people who wish for peaceful co-existence with all of Canada. A people who seek to empower and guide. A people who are stewards for Creation.
At a reception, held at The Delta Waterfront, Hensel Design Group, Collingwood Ontario, in conjunction with Aboriginal Business Network was working with members of Batchewana First Nation to facilitate identification, on large maps, areas that are considered to be trap lines, hunting areas, burial grounds, canoe routes, plants for medicinal use, fishing areas, camps and more. Led by Mike Hensel, Wayne Hunwick and Rick Berni, Batchewana community members were invited to come and place markers on huge maps laid out on tables. “The Hensel Group and Aboriginal Business Network are working with First Nation communities all across Ontario in an effort to educate mining companies about traditional lands.” shared Mike Hensel.
Guy Hibbert is heading to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) where his film, ‘Eye in the Sky’ is set to premiere at Roy Thompson Hall. The film features Dame Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and Alan Ryckman.
Congratulations Guy Hibbert, Chief Dean Sayers, Maureen DePietro, Lisa Williams, and all of the members of Batchewana First Nation on the glorious film that is Nanabozhung. Saultonline wishes all involved every success as Nanabozhung travels the world, with a drum that beats strong and proud, seeking to honour the land beyond the big waters.
The following is an excerpt From the book “The Voice of the Ojibway'” by Edward Benton Banai and speaks of The Seven Fires Prophecy of the Anishinabek or Ojibway people.
“It is at this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the seventh fire will light the eighth and final fire, an eternal fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood. If the light skinned race make the wrong choice of roads, then the destruction they brought with them in coming to this country will come back to them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earths people.”
Choose wisely. Chi Miigwech.