The Wapikoni team had only just arrived in Kitigan Zibi when the mobile studio was flooded by local youth, an interesting mix of past and new participants.
For that we would like to thank the Wapikoni teams and local coordinators from previous stopovers, whose involvement has allowed us from the get-go to benefit from a relationship of confidence with the youths. Our assistant-trainer, filmmaker and multi-instrumentalist Craig Commanda (The Weight, Call & Response, and the bands Strange Brew, Commanduck), along with past participant Russell Jr Ratt (The Hearing), also helped us make the new applicants feel at home and understand the level of involvement expected from our trainees.
It gave us the opportunity to meet with Keith Whiteduck, a young and talented musician from KZ, who pitched us a hilarious script for a music mockumentary, a la Spinal Tap. The location scouting and scriptwriting are complete, and the film is scheduled to start shooting this week.
We also received an unexpected visit: Fernand Pétiquay, an Atikamekw from Opitciwan who now lives in Kitigan Zibi, recognized the mobile studio from his previous involvement with the Wapikoni (“Je me souviens / I remember”, 2009). He introduced us to his daughter, Laurye, a talented illustrator and painter who was playing the young girl struggling with the impacts of residential schooling in the film her dad directed, 7 years ago. She kept vivid memories of the film shoot and was eager to follow in her dad’s footsteps with the Wapikoni, and express the social issues that have plagued her teenage years: bullying, racism, discrimination, and the obstinacy of social services. She invited her boyfriend to get involved as director of a music video on the topic of bullying. This is how we met with Kenden, a young singer from Rapid Lake who has been living in Maniwaki for the past 9 years. His contagious energy and positivity made it possible to quickly gather a team around their film project: Fanny and Gabriel, two young metis who have also struggled with bullying in their teens, joined the project, along with a dozen other friends and family members who assisted during filming. The video is called “J’avance / Going forward”, and showcases a rap song that encourages teens to not let the bullies dictate what you can and cannot do with your life, hopes and dreams, and to avoid the path of drug and alcohol abuse, an all too frequent self-medication against the throes of intimidation.
We as adults would never tolerate the amount of bullying that goes on in some schools, if we were the targets; we have laws against workplace harassment, but the youths are often left to fend for themselves. Laurye and Kenden have already come out the other side of this issue, but want to express their solidarity and support for the kids that have yet to face this sad reality. We believe their film will have very positive impacts on the next generation of their community, and all in all it was an immense pleasure to work with such dedicated youths!
More projects are on their way, but are still at the stage of pre-production.
We’ll keep you posted!