Indigenous elders enlisted to create film

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AUNDECK OMNI KANING – Indigenous elders are well used to being filmmakers’ subjects and having others (too often non-Indigenous) tell their stories, but a new project inspired by the United Nation’s Decade of Healthy Aging is aimed at truly taking the story to the people in the form of eight elders who will be creating their own film.

“For two weeks, beginning August 3, eight elders from Manitoulin Island representing the Ojibway Cultural Foundation, Wikwemikong, M’Chigeeng, Aundeck Omni Kaning and Sheguiandah will be creating a video for the United Nations Decade of Healthy Aging Initiative,” said Gregor Sneddon, executive director at HelpAge Canada. “We are grateful for the local partnership of the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre who are providing space and logistical support for the project as well as the traditional advisory council for their blessing, support and assistance.”

Mr. Sneddon explained that the world is looking toward a future where one in five people will be over the age of 60. “The UN and world leaders need to hear the voice of older people as they look to create the infrastructure and policy to support our aging populations,” he said. “This project is intended to be one way to hear that voice.”

Instead of the elders’ stories being relayed through a third party, the project will see them telling their own story through a lens and perspective that is uniquely their own.

Over the two week stint, eight elders will be learning to be “participatory videographers,” that is, learning to use technology to make a video—creating the story and content they wish to tell. “Canada was one of six countries selected by the UN for this project and should the elders grant permission, the video will be shared around the world,” said Mr. Sneddon. 

There will be a community screening of the film at 3 pm on August 15 at the Four Directions Recreation Complex located at 13 Hill Street in Aundeck Omni Kaning.

Mr. Sneddon noted the facilitating partner of the project, Insight Share, has over 25 years of experience in participatory filmmaking. A link to a short example of a participatory film Insight Share facilitated on the Effect of Climate Change by the Cree Nation of Mistissini can be found on YouTube.

The United Nations Decade of Healthy Aging (2021-2030) is a global collaboration, aligned with the last 10 years of the sustainable development goals bringing together governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media and the private sector to improve the lives of older people, their families and the communities in which they live.