Four-part doc series hopes to create a safer community
Filmmaker Michelle Derosier
Told from the perspectives of a broad range of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, a four-part educational documentary series hopes to open up the dialogue about what it is like to live as an First Nations person in the Thunder Bay region.
The Walk-A-Mile film project is being developed to break down barriers, help celebrate resiliency, challenge stereotypes, strengthen community relations, create a safer and more understanding community, educate peoples and create an opportunity for people to decide what needs to be said and heard about aboriginal people.
Michelle Derosier, from Eagle Lake, is an award-winning filmmaker who founded her own company Thunderstone Pictures. She teamed up with the City of Thunder Bay Aboriginal Liaison Unit and Imaginarium Video Production Studio to create a four-part, 10-minute documentary series.
“There are lots we have to learn and there is lots we are just touching the surface on,” said Derosier. “There are countless issues, problems and stories to be told.”
Derosier holds a master of social work degree and worked on the front lines for 12 years. About eight years ago she decided it was time to make a career change. She knew the importance of images and media but wasn’t too sure in what direction she should take. After she met her business partner Dave Clement they decided to exclusively tell Aboriginal stories and in 2006 she wrote and co-directed a documentary Seeking Bimaadiziiwin.
“I had experienced many, many powerful moving and thought provoking and amazing things while filming from that first experience and I went from there,” she said.
Desosier has gone on to create numerous award-winning projects. She has worked with the City of Thunder Bay Aboriginal Liaison Unit for a number of years particularly with city clerk, John Hannam. They both attended a Nishnawebe Aski Nation (NAN) safety conference in January when an idea began to blossom.
“It’s not about community safety but it is and it’s not necessarily about one particular issue but it is, so it’s about all of them and it’s very big,” said Derosiers. They concluded the best way to open up a dialogue and create understanding was to story tell through a documentary.
“I have seen how if you tell somebody a story about something they didn’t know, if they had stereotypes or misconceptions about somebody or an issue, if they hear a story that is the truth, you can start to see change happen,” she said. “It’s not quite that simple, but sometimes it does change people, their attitude, the way they treat a person and how they look at their neighbor. With this project we want to at least change one person’s perception about their neighbor.”
Derosiers wants to be respectful in the process of this project. However, she doesn’t want to shy away from difficult topics. The purpose of creating four 10-minute documentaries is to allow different agencies to use the series at various presentations like a one-hour lunch or in schools for training.
As a community project one of the goals is to ensure the subjects talk about what they feel. “It’s not what I think or not what the city or Aboriginal liaison thinks needs to be in this, but it’s what the subjects think needs to be in it,” she said.
The series will be a tool for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples and various agencies for helping strengthen community ties and healthier communities.
The Walk-A-Mile Film series will be presented on Feb. 6 at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. To share your story contact Michelle Desosier of Thunderstone Pictures, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-807-707-2504.
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