Upcoming "Right to Tell" documentary

·3 min read

The portfolio of the Ktunaxa Nation Theatre Dance Troupe Society (KNTDTS) has recently expanded in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Janice Alpine, KNTDTS manager, has been tirelessly working with producer Eldene Stanley as well as Ktunaxa performers and videographers on a new initiative: conducting socially distanced interviews with the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).

The purpose of their project is to explore the long-standing effects of MMIW, as well as how it is tied to the trauma of attending residential schools in an effort to raise awareness about intergenerational trauma.

“Most recently, now, we’re looking at wellness,” Alpine told the Pioneer by phone. “We do some work with the MMIWG and operate safe-place sessions for individuals that have been affected traumatically with MMIWG. We combine that in with residential school traumas, not only in our community, but a lot of communities are affected. When COVID-19 came, we needed to go into a different method, which is actually video-taping and going into interviews. It’s called “Right to Tell”. We have a videographer — everybody that is working with us is Ktunaxa.”

The project will include interviews with survivors from Aq’am, Yaqan Nukiy, Tobacco Plains and Akisqnuk First Nations from the Canadian members of the Ktunaxa Nation Council who consent to voluntarily share their stories for recording.

“At the end, what we plan to do, is put a video together and present it for the 50th anniversary of the residential school closure, which was supposed to happen last June (but was disrupted due to COVID-19 pandemic safety guidelines),” explained Alpine, adding the completed video with interviews will be available at St. Eugene’s Resort and Casino (formerly the Kootenay Indian Residential School) to aid participants that attend cultural awareness training near Cranbrook. “We want to tell the story of residential schools.”

The KNTDTS is targeting a September completion date to distribute the individual interviews with culturally safe protocols in anticipation of the proposed 50th anniversary celebration of the residential school in the Kootenay region of B.C. with the hope of interviewing residential school and MMIW survivors as well as their families.

“We’ll be looking at the RCMP as well as the coroner, as well as Victim Services,” added Alpine. “The video itself will be shared with the public. We want to raise awareness on these issues, and work internally with these communities as well — bringing that to the forefront. Allowing our people to start thinking about it. The people need to understand the things that were done (to them) weren’t done through any fault of the people.

“Recognizing what has happened, and these are some of the things that stand out in how we address ourselves in public. The way we do certain things, like maybe what the government brings to us. Issues that affect general society, and how we address it.”

If you’re interested in being interviewed for this project, please contact Alpine at: ktunaxanationdancetroupe@gmail.com

Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer