Catalina students direct documentary on cod moratorium

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Catalina students direct documentary on cod moratorium

Trinity Bay teenagers who were born 10 years after the cod moratorium was imposed are now making a film about the impact of the fishery collapse on the area they live in.

The Grade 7 and Grade 8 grade students turned the library at Catalina Elementary into a film set Friday, under the eye of filmmakers Andrea Dunne and Ben Noah from the Nickel Film Festival's Reel Youth filmmaker series.

"I think it's pretty interesting, we're learning a lot from it," 13-year-old Rachel McQuarrie said.

"I know that a lot of things have changed, there's been a lot of people that have moved away. My aunt worked at the fish plant in Port Union but she had to move away because she lost her job."

The students interviewed three local men — Tim Duffett, Glenn White and Neville Samson — who offered different perspectives. 

One was a fisherman, another worked in the processing plant, and the third in an office job with Fishery Products International and as a representative on the Fish Food and Allied Workers union.

"The kids come up with the questions themselves, to ask the people from their community, we film it, and then we're going to put it all together as a little five-minute documentary" said Andrea Dunne.

The theme that's guiding the Reel Youth project this year is water. 

"We were thinking about what the outport communities have to do with water and the ocean and obviously the fishing industry and the cod moratorium has had a really big impact on these communities."

Learning experience

The students have no concept of what Newfoundland was like before the moratorium happened, only the stories they hear

"They're learning about it in a more personal way than just their textbooks. They're actually talking about it with people who used to fish before the moratorium and talking about what their lives were like," Dunne said.

The afternoon was filled with cuts and retakes to get everything just right for the documentary.

Many of the students admitted they don't know much about the moratorium, but all agreed that the Trinity Bay North area before the moratorium would have had a lot more people, activities, and businesses.

"If I was living back in the old days compared to now, I'd say it was a lot better back then, it probably would have been a lot busier, you had more to do," said Jonathan Rose, 13.

It was a learning experience, not just for the students.

"It's extremely informative for me," said Nickel Film Fest's Ben Noah.

"It's much sadder than I ever really possibly imagined. I knew it was bad but seeing it through the eyes of the people who experienced it, seeing locals in the small community well up when they're telling you about their story it's pretty emotional stuff.

The Reel Youth filmmaking series visited five schools on the Bonavista Peninsula, and made a couple of stops in Labrador as well.

"It's good to be behind the camera," Jonathan Rose said. 

"Now that I know more about it, I definitely would like to take it into consideration for a career,"

The documentaries will be featured on CBCNL's YouTube page in the coming weeks.