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Vernon School District holding Indigenous film festival

More than 2,600 students will be watching a pair of Indigenous films
A scene from the film Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, one of two Indigenous films that students in the Vernon School District will be viewing as part of the school district’s first Indigenous Film Festival. (Vimeo)

More than 2,600 students from the Vernon School District will be taking in the works of Indigenous creators during the school district’s first Indigenous film festival.

The school district has teamed up with Axis Theatre and the Vernon Towne Theatre to bring two Indigenous films to students.

The films are Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, and Kwi’ah: The Girl Who Heals.

Both films are adaptations of plays written by Joseph A. Dandurand, a member of the Kwantlen First Nation. In addition to being the director of the Kwantlen Cultural Centre, Dandurand is also an accomplished poet, playwright and author.

Both films touch upon themes of respecting the environment, problem solving, friendship, courage, cooperation and honour.

School district lead teacher Carly Hills envisioned a film festival for students that showcased the stories and voices of Indigenous people.

“It’s important for students to not only learn about Indigenous culture and language but to also see Indigenous actors, read stories by Indigenous authors and listen to music created by Indigenous artists — and these films have it all,” said Hills.

In June, which is National Indigenous History Month, more than 2,600 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 will have the chance to view the films.

“I wasn’t expecting this to take off,” Hills said in response to the number of students taking part. “I thought maybe a few classes would sign up but not 30 per cent of the students in the entire district. It goes to show how many teachers are eager to integrate Indigenous content into their classes, particularly during National Indigenous History Month.”

Hills hopes the Indigenous film festival can become an annual event in School District 22.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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