At the start of the new millennium, director Manon Barbeau wrote a script, with fifteen Atikamekw youth from Wemotaci, for a feature-length film entitled, La fin du mépris. Among these youth was a woman named Wapikoni Awashish, a positive role model and group leader within her community. In May 2002, when she was only 20 years old and undertaking numerous projects, Wapikoni died in a car accident when her car collided into a truck loaded with wood.
Already profoundly touched by the number of youth suicides within the community, Manon Barbeau is devastated by the accidental death of her closest collaborator. Consequently, Manon is inspired to create a mobile studio as a place of assembly, intervention, and audiovisual and musical creation for First Nations youth; she names it Wapikoni Mobile, in honour of Wapikoni Awashish.
Photo: 2004 premier at Présence autochtone (Montreal First Peoples Festival)
Co-founded in 2003 by Manon Barbeau, the Council of the Atikamekw Nation Youth Council and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, with the support of the Assembly of First Nations and the collaboration of the National Film Board of Canada, the launch of Wapikoni Mobile took place in 2004 during the Montreal First Peoples Festival.
Since then, Wapikoni Mobile travels to Aboriginal communities providing workshops for First Nations youth that allow them to master digital tools by directing short films and musical works. During each stopover, "mentor filmmakers" welcome and train thirty young participants during all stages of implementation.