Laura Cole presents Young Narratives. An exploration into how traditional ways of life clash with modernity and media narratives.
We caught up with Laura to discuss the project.
What’s the film about and where did you get your inspiration?
The film is about the nation’s youth, although that’s rather a sweeping statement. There are over 600 native nations in Canada and this is specifically about one village. I wanted to tackle the generalisations between aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures. What I thought would have been called ‘Indian’ people are actually a multiplicity that cannot so easily be homogenised.
My inspiration came from my year abroad. I was in Ottawa when I saw a demonstration. It was the demonstration started by seven boys, who managed to gather around 330 people to protest.
At the University of Carlton I didn’t see any aboriginal people, the attitude towards them was that they were freeloaders and alcoholics. I wanted to show that the young people in these cultures have rejected these ideas. They are reversing the cycle of decline – they don’t drink, they have started to attend school and value education yet at the same time they are trying to assert their culture and are learning their native language. I actually even found them to be more switched on about politics than the privileged non-native people.
Were you aware of these issues before you left?
On a very basic level, yes. I was aware of protests from people north of the Tar Sands, especially about fracking for oil, similar to what’s happening here. America would like Canada’s oil, so they have to rely less on the Middle East. I was only really aware of the meida portrait of these people though, and the media still have a big impact on how they are viewed today.
How long did you spend with the Cree people?
It was filmed over three weeks, and it’s an interesting story actually. When i first told the Chief I was an aspiring journalist I think he assumed I was more established than I was. I was put up in a hotel to begin with, which is usually only used by wealthy miners, and by the end of the first week I was told the bill would be $1,000!
Thankfully , I managed to befriend the hotel staff and they put me up in a workhouse for free. The local people were fantastic to me, it didn’t take them long to realise I was a bit lost and confused so they were great at translating and explaining things to me.
Have you done much documentary making before?
It’s the first project I’ve actually done, I originally went up there to write, but I just started taking some videos and it all pieced together. I only used a DSLR, I didn’t even have a tripod, but I like how it’s choppy and not too professional, I didn’t want it to be an us and them style.
Would you go back?
I’d like to go back just to see what’s happened since then. I’ve stayed in touch with Juliette and she’s gone to college now, I’d like to see what else has changed.
Any last words?
Just watch this space! These are issues that have been largely ignored so far, but with the amount of resources and space these people have they can not be disregarded much longer.