Lights, camera, action 

Mount Currie, Squamish First Nations benefit from Legacies Now

By Nicole Fitzgerald

The oral tradition of First Nations storytelling is a longstanding one, but as historic tales disappear with aging elders a new way of preserving aboriginal tradition and history is emerging.

“We want to use these (film cameras and computer editing systems) to tell a story through new media,” said Johnny Abraham, the art and computer teacher at Xit’olawc Community School where a new digital storytelling program will reside.

“A lot of our elders are dying so fast. We have to keep up.”

A $7,000 grant from 2010 Legacies Now will help the Lil’wat Nation move ahead with the times, funding the Mount Currie digital storytelling development project, which aims to build the community’s ability to tell and preserve their stories.

The Mount Currie Band Council is working in partnership with the Lil’wat First Nation, Xit’olawc Community School and Ts’zil Learning Centre to create a digital filmmaking program for Lil’wat youth and educators. The Legacies Now funding will help send an initial group of teachers and students to the Gulf Islands Film and Television School’s spring aboriginal filmmaking intensive program. Students will learn how to complete a film from start to finish with the program culminating in the completion of a series of short films based on community stories.

“This is something new to the community,” Abraham said. “Because we are so far behind in technology, a lot of people are really excited about it.”

Lori Baxter, director of ArtsNow, said the project was chosen because the band already invested in the equipment and computers necessary to sustain a filmmaking program.

“They will actually now be able to provide training that will be in-house in the community afterwards,” Baxter said.

The $7,000 grant comes from the ArtsNow catalyst program as part of 2010 Legacies Now, an organization that encourages and supports creative activities through its catalyst and innovations programs.

This wave of funding awarded $21,500 to Sea to Sky communities, part of a $430,000 investment in 52 arts organizations in 23 communities across the province.

Other regional communities that benefited included the Village of Lions Bay, which was awarded $2,500 for the Winter Light: the Spirit of Lions Bay Lantern Festival. West Vancouver was awarded $12,000 for a Squamish and Lil’wat Nation traditional weaving exchange program.

The two nations will develop an intercommunity exchange of weavers to revitalize traditional weaving styles. The meeting will be held in Mount Currie and the weaving products will be showcased at the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre being built in Whistler.

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