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Documentary on residential schools shoots in Portage

By Jordan Maxwell, Portage Daily Graphic

Staff photo by Jordan Maxwell... Co-producers Kyle Irving and Lisa Meeches of EagleVision Inc. stand with director Tim Wolochatiuk on the set of the documentary, We Were Children.

Staff photo by Jordan Maxwell... Co-producers Kyle Irving and Lisa Meeches of EagleVision Inc. stand with director Tim Wolochatiuk on the set of the documentary, We Were Children.

Filming for a documentary called We Were Children resumed production Wednesday at the Rufus Prince building in Portage la Prairie.

The documentary chronicles the experiences of a four-year-old girl named Lyna, who was taken to a residential school 500 kilometers from her home, and a young boy named Glen also suffered the same fate as his parents were forced to hand him over.

"It's a story that needs to be told," said co-producer Lisa Meeches of EagleVision Inc. "It's never been told properly or through the prospective of survivors and they are still yet to feel that they've been believed. Canadians still aren't fully aware of this story. They hear bits and pieces and they do what they can to piece it together but for the most part, the majority of Canadians aren't aware."

The film is a co-production between the National Film Board, eOne Television and EagleVision Inc. and is directed by Tim Wolochatiuk; written by Jason Sherman.

The documentary focuses survivor interviews with personal re-enactments for the purposed of understanding a dark and largely unknown chapter of Canadian history, Wolochatiuk said.

He also said that the film will explore not just the individual experiences of children forced into Aboriginal residential schools but also the impact that it's had on the lives of survivors and Aboriginals as a whole.

"When I was approached to work on this project, I knew next to nothing about residential schools and I was embarrassed," said Wolochatiuk. "When I started delving into the research and learned just the scope of the story and what happened to tens of thousands of Aboriginals who have attended these schools over the year and the survivors that have came out of the other side,

"I was just super angry because why wasn't I taught this in school. I'm almost 50 years old and I was ignorant to the issue and I'm a Canadian and it's such a Canadian story."

The collective production group has been shooting the documentary since March of 2009, collecting stories and shooting different scenes across the province.

Kyle Irving, a co-producer from EagleVision Inc. said that he and Meeches have gathered stories over the last seven years and interviewed over 700 survivors only to come to a common theme.

"Resolution will only come when their story is told and every survivor wants nothing more than their truth to be heard and believed. And that's what we're hoping to accomplish with this film," he said."

Meeches added that the purpose of the film is not simply to enlighten people but also to provide a source of hope to Aboriginals who were either robbed of their history and culture, or look for meaning within their culture.

"This is an issue that concerns every single one of us and will continue to affect everyone of us until we deal with the issue," said Meeches. "People are unhealthy and face addictions, diseases and abuse because of this issue and we can continue to research the community until we can't anymore but our resolution is spirit-based. (We need to) find our way back to the things that made us powerful - and that is resiliency, forgiveness, understanding natural law and respecting each other as Indian people, as white people."

The documentary is expected to be completed in 2012.

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