June 20th, 2024

Local filmmaker crafts short on Blackfoot culture

By Alexandra Noad - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on June 8, 2024.

Submitted photo - A still frame from "The Old People," a short film by Shawanda Backfat highlights Blackfoot teachings and way of life. The film was one of 36 Indigenous-led projects that were produced during the Telus Storyhive Empowered Filmmakers program last year.

A southern Alberta woman’s short film about her Blackfoot culture is being broadcast on television.

Shawanda Backfat’s film was one of 36 Indigenous-led projects that were produced during the Storyhive Empowered Filmmakers program last year.

The program consisted of five days learning from instructor Farhan Umedaly. Backfat says making the film in such a short amount of time was a challenge, but she was given all of the support she needed.

“Farhan Umedaly, our amazing instructor, did an incredible job in providing the support needed. Completing a film in such a short period of time was definitely challenging but ultimately reveals one’s potential,” said Backfat.

Her film, “The Old People,” highlights Blackfoot teachings and way of life. She interviewed her cousin Wilda Yellow Oldwoman who has a passion for keeping Blackfoot language alive.

Backfat says it was on honour to have Yellow Oldwoman on camera to share her values and knowledge with the world.

“I wanted to share with people the importance of kindness, compassion, resilience and forgiveness and to show how those values have helped my people stay strong and close to Creator throughout the years,” said Backfat.

She went on to say she hopes that the film will inspire people to be more kind, humble and nonjudgmental, even when life gets difficult.

Telus Storyhive gives underrepresented communities in British Columbia and Alberta an opportunity to share their stories on the Canadian Broadcasting System. They provide funding for equipment, training, equipment and the finished products air on Telus Optik TV. Since 2013, they have funded over 1,200 projects.

Backfat says this experience showed her the potential individuals have, especially when they are given the supports needed to succeed. She hopes that Indigenous voices will continued to be amplified in mainstream media.

“With support and inspiration I believe local content can move in a direction that is more raw, real and relatable,” said Backfat.

Backfat plans on continuing to make films and hopes to be able to share other’s story with the world.

“My dream would be to connect both viewers and storytellers through the use of film.”

“The public can support this initiative by exploring the 36 Indigenous led projects produced through the Telus Storyhive program, which are available on Telus Optic TV, channel 9 and Storyhive’s YouTube channel,” said T Bannister, Storyhive partner programs lead said.

“We look forward to welcoming new film makers every year in this program. We work with communities across B.C. and Alberta every year and you know, if you have, if any, if your leaders have friends or family interested in filmmaking, you would encourage them to apply. And of course, to get these films on all of our channels.

“It can have to be challenging for storytellers from more rural communities to access support and funding to create meaningful and community content that they care about. The stories that they care about, and that’s where we come in. And it’s really easy to access resources as an emerging creator, you don’t need to be from an urban center. In fact, the empower filmmaker program acts as kind of an incubator and a showcase for what is possible. When you give someone a camera, a computer with editing software and method of training,” said Bannister.

“By inviting people to share their important cultural and community story, we’re often able to give the underrepresented communities across Alberta a platform to share their voices. And the more we support these communities, the future generations, will see their own homes, their own stories and their own traditional cultures represented in our national media landscape. And that’s sort of the point of all of our program.”

Backfat’s film along with the other 35 films can be watched on Telus Optik TV channel 9 as well as on the Storyhive YouTube channel.

For more information on Storyhive visit http://www.storyhive.com

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