By Jessica Nyznik, The Peterborough Examiner
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:37:22 EST AM
An indigenous filmmaker from Toronto whose documentary was partially filmed at Lang Pioneer Village is coming to Peterborough for this weekend's ReFrame Film Festival.
Michelle St. John's Colonization Road is screening at Showplace Performance Centre on Saturday at 1:45 p.m.
It's a documentary examining First Nations and settler relations through Ontario's first roadways. The roads were built to make the land accessible for settlers, but ultimately split up and cut off First Nations communities.
The film follows Anishinaabe comedian and activist Ryan McMahon as he interviews subjects and takes viewers to his hometown of Fort Frances, where the main street is Colonization Road.
In August 2014, St. John spent time filming at Lang Pioneer Village.
In telling the story, she said she felt it was important to see what settlement might have looked like in early days and be able to speak to historians and specialists at Lang who knew the issues and the history.
As St. John researched settlement for the film, she said it was very rare to find information about indigenous people.
"We're just erased from the narrative of settlement," said St. John, who directed, co-produced and co-wrote the film.
As a result, First Nation, Métis and Inuit people have a relationship with the federal government that is fundamentally than the rest of the country, St. John said.
She hopes Colonization Road is able to shed some light on the past during this era of reconciliation to help spark difficult conversations.
"It's not a perfect film, but it's hopefully one of the many tools that people can use to inform themselves to begin that re-education process and therefore have more informed conversations."
Before Saturday's screening at Showplace, St. John is participating in a ReFrame discussion panel.
ReFraming Canada 150: Idle No More in the Year 2017 is happening at The Venue at 10 a.m. It'll focus on how filmmaking and films can rebuild relationships and inspire solidarity from an indigenous perspective.
After the screening, there'll be a question and answer period with St. John, Leanne Betasamosake and elder Doug Williams.
Colonization Road premiered at the ImagineNative Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto in October.
A shorter version of the film is airing across Canada on CBC's weekly point-of-view series, Firsthand, on Thursday at 9 p.m.