DAREarts and Noront Resources returned to Webequie First Nation to facilitate the creation of a film by local youth between the ages of 13 and 20 that explores the relationship between mining and their community.
For our teaching team, consisting of Laura MacKinnon (Lead Teacher, DAREarts), Kaitlyn Ferris (Manager, Corporate Responsibility, Noront Resources) and Patrick Gallagher (mentor, videography/editing), the project began before our plane had even landed.
Tyler, an eager and committed youth participant from past years, showed great initiative in spreading word of the camp around the community before our arrival. He also independently decided on a central theme and structure for the film, a documentary to be titled “Our Land, Our Community”, featuring interviews with people from his home.
He wanted to hear his community’s views on the potential benefits of mining in the Ring of Fire, as well as discuss concerns. His impressive wishlist of interviewees included Chief Cornelius Wabasse, Al Coutts (CEO, Noront Resources), Elders, band councillors, teachers and youth. Teens Jada, Ethan and Angel joined the team and production began!
After an opening circle and a discussion of the DARE values, we took our “A” for “Action!” and ventured outside to practice camera techniques, including movement, composition and lighting. The team captured beautiful shots of the river, the school, groups of playing children and other interesting community spots to be featured in the film. All of the teens showed exceptional attention to detail, patience and an incredible willingness to shoot and re-shoot until each shot was excellent!
Production rolled along as interviews were scheduled and questions created. The teaching team was so proud to see the teens muster the courage to speak to Elders and community leaders, setting up the camera, sound equipment and conducting the interviews independently. Wanting to add their own voices to the film, Tyler and Jada spoke of their dreams of becoming a geologist and lawyer respectively. Their impressive critical insight into the Eagle’s Nest mine and the all-season road could help make those dreams a reality.
Ever the intrepid filmmakers, treks were made to places like the airport and school gym in the pouring rain after official camp time had ended each evening. The level of initiative, commitment and pride the teens took in their work was heartwarming and inspiring to witness. Community members began to notice the teens’ work as well, volunteering to speak on camera, help setup interviews, provide translation from Ojicree to English and to congratulate the teens on the great work they were doing.
The teens went above and beyond expectations. They connected with and engaged their community, shot enough excellent footage to produce a 30-minute documentary, bravely spoke on camera and shared and explored their personal views on a complex topic.
They truly showed their leadership. In Tyler’s words, it all starts with “showing up”, and from there, it blossomed. We watched a rough cut of the film the last morning with the teens over a celebratory breakfast and the pride shone on their faces. The film is a testament to their inner discipline, hard work and creativity.
The project doesn’t end there! The teens will surely rise to conquer their next challenge: a DARE to organize a community screening of their film “Our Land, Our Community”.
Looking forward to it!
DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower youth at-risk to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, and agencies of the government of Ontario: Ontario Arts Council & Ontario Trillium Foundation.