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Thunderstone receives community safety award

Thursday November 24, 2011

Thunderstone Pictures Inc. and CBC Radio’s Common Ground Café program were recently commended by the City of Thunder Bay for their efforts in helping to make the city a safer place to live.

They were the recipients of the inaugural Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards presented by the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council on Nov. 4.

Thunderstone Pictures was given the business award for its productions that document social justice issues in northwestern Ontario. Co-owned by Michelle Derosier of Eagle Lake First Nation and Dave Clement, the production company has “helped eliminate barriers between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people by openly portraying racism, suicide, mental illness and poverty.” Their recent film, The Life You Want, examines the OxyContin addiction of a young Eabametoong First Nation mother and the barriers people from remote communities face in getting treatment.

“That film is actively engaged in creating a safer community and tackling addictions in the communities,” Clement said. Since being posted to the video site Vimeo on Nov. 9, the documentary has nearly 9,300 plays as of Nov. 21.

In 2009, Derosier and Clement were instrumental in the creation of the Biindigaate Film Festival, which increases awareness and understanding of the Aboriginal community. The annual event continues to grow each year, with the recent festival recording the highest attendance numbers.

Thunderstone Pictures also works a lot with youth. Their award-winning first film, Seeking Bimaadiziwiin, is about Aboriginal youth dealing with depression, suicide and racism. It is still being used as a teaching tool by hospitals, healing centres, police forces and education institutions across North America.

Most recently, Thunderstone Pictures shot a film that was co-written by and featured Dryden High School students. The film, Eagle Vs. Sparrow, received an honorable mention for the Best Short Drama award at this year’s imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival held in Toronto.

“They always rise to the challenge,” Clement said of the youth they have worked with. “So really we have them to thank for the award.”

Derosier added: “We like to do projects that engage the community and that engages youth in the community. You engage people in something meaningful, and really cool stuff can happen.”

The CBC Radio program Common Ground Café was given the media award for its focus on finding “common ground when it comes to race relations in Thunder Bay.” Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants prepared and shared a meal together while discussing their concerns about community safety. The discussions demonstrated the different perceptions that people have about crime and solutions to crime, and showed that perspectives are often based on race. The discussions were aired locally and nationally, and the conversation has continued on a Facebook page under the same name. The CBC partnered with the Learning Café for a Conversation Café where the public was able to join the discussion. Reaction from the community has been so positive that CBC continues to get requests to moderate discussions.

Seven other individuals and groups also received an award.

The awards were held in conjunction with Ontario’s Crime Prevention Week.


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