Every now and then I seem to have no choice to toot a friend’s horn. In this case it is Ernest Webb and Neil Diamond, directors and producers for Rezolution Pictures.
I would have to say that, outside of the people working in the Cree bureaucracy and the Cree School Board, they are doing more to preserve, enhance, promote and protect the Cree language, culture and document history than anyone else.
You only have to look at the Dab Iyiyuu series, which airs on APTN, to feel a pride in in their work. My personal favorite will always be Charlie Makes a Drum, based on Charlie Etapp of Mistissini. It is a fascinating look, not only at drum-making, but at traditional Cree spirituality and bush life. The documentary tells of a very near Cree past to the present in an interesting way. And it’s all in the Cree language with subtitles. It shows Cree interactions, among each other and with the land.
I was fascinated to learn that being able to make your wife-to-be a pair of snowshoes as well as being a good hunter made you a desirable mate in the old days. There are five more in the series and they are just as entertainingly packed with information and humour as Charlie Makes a Drum. I’ve given the series as Christmas gifts to select people and all have profusely thanked me. Non-Crees especially treasure it since it gives them a glimpse into the Cree psyche that they would never have had otherwise.
It is nice to know that the boys and girls at Rezolution Pictures have already started filming the second Dab Iyiyuu series. I hear this one had some interesting moments but I’ll leave the tales for the launch party story.
I was happy to see that Heavy Metal: a Mining Disaster in Northern Quebec was playing at the Lands InSight Festival. Of course it is about the situation concerning the mining toxins leaching into the watershed in Ouje-Bougoumou. For me, one of the most telling parts of the film was when one of the scientists said that there was a problem and it affected the lakes, fish and animals but not humans!
I guess the O.J. Cree were now somehow exempt from the environment and ecosystems in Eeyou Istchee. All in all this film is a tribute to the late Joseph Shecapio-Blacksmith. It was his courage and determination to carry that fight to wherever he had to that inspired – and continues to inspire – many of us. Some day this documentary will be considered a vital part of Cree history.
Radio and print media have their strengths but video and film have a special power to convey truths that are not always easily expressed with words. I am proud to see this medium being used to capture the Cree way of life for all to see and treasure.