The Making of the Erasing Cultural Genocide films
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Erasing Cultural Genocide is a series of hard-hitting, documentary films that reveals horrific abuses suffered by children interned at St. Anne's residential school, and in addition, expose how the Survivors of St. Anne’s are now being re-victimized by the Canadian government. In 2008, the Canadian government lied about having any knowledge of wide-spread sexual abuse at the school, and suppressed key evidentiary materials from what is known as the Independent Assessment Process, one facet of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action suit in Canadian history.
ARTICLE (Summer 2015): "Why 'Erasing Cultural Genocide' is a Must-see Documentary":
When I initially learned about the horrific abuses suffered by children who had attended St. Anne's, it was decided that our first essential trip (myself, Director of Photography, Ilan Waldman & Sound Recordist, Andrew Leonard) was to be the final leg of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa (May 30-June 3, 2015). After having heartfelt conversations with Survivors of schools from all across the country, I knew immediately that we were on the right path: that the Survivors' stories needed to be told, that Canadians needed to be educated about what really went on at the residential schools, and that Canada needed to admit to committing, or of having had the intention to commit, cultural genocide. Edmund Metatawabin - a wealth of knowledge, grace and wisdom - was there too.
In August of 2015, we travelled to the small, fly-in community Fort Albany First Nation in Northern Ontario. Chief Solomon graciously granted permission for us to stay within the community, and soon enough, Survivors - both first generation and second generation - began to come forward to tell us their stories of St. Anne's Residential School and its legacy of violence. Some told us their stories in Cree, others in English. The pain and suffering of what occurred at that school was so close to the surface of each person's consciousness - despite the fact that some abuses had occurred as long as 50 years ago - that it was clear that for many Survivors of St. Anne's, it felt as if those abuses had occurred just 'yesterday.' Since leaving Ft. Albany, we have continued our relationships with many of the Survivors, and feel honoured that we are even a small part of their journey toward justice and healing.
In January of 2016, my small(er) crew and I ended up back in Ottawa for the Release of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde was there as was newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau. PM Trudeau, unlike any other prime minister in Canadian history, has made many promises to the indigenous peoples of these lands. Now he needs to keep those promises. The Survivors and delegations are doing everything possible to ensure that a new day is dawning in Canada.
In May of 2016, we were (again) at the Osgoode Hall courts in Toronto, listening to the St. Anne's case as it continues to grow and unravel, and to interview people once again. What a complex journey this is! We are most grateful for all the wonderful people we have met!
NOTE:Production for this documentary film is almost complete and is now firmly entering the post-production stage.