The Gathering Coastal Voices Festival opened Friday night with speakers from Bella Bella, including an introduction by Chief Harvey Humchitt and opening remarks by Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett.
There were a number of other presenters over the course of the weekend, including MLA Gary Coons and Eduardo Sousa from Greenpeace and the talented 10-year old Ta’Kaiya Blaney who sang her popular song Shallow Waters about what oil spills would do to our coast, in addition to some of her other original songs.
Phillip and Matt Gallant, a guitar and drum-playing duo from Victoria, BC, performed some original music at the end of each evening.
Several of the iLCP Great Bear RAVE images were nicely displayed in venues throughout the weekend.
Saturday morning had Norm Hann launching 10 handmade red and yellow cedar paddleboards with high school students from Bella Bella. This was timely as it was exactly a year ago, when Norm first arrived in Bella Bella after his 14 day STAND UP 4 GREAT BEAR expedition from Kitimat.
The remainder of the day was filled with the screening of 12 films, mostly about the Enbridge/oil spill/tar sands issue, but also a few community films. A youth jury from the group Bella Bella Youth Voice chose winners of nine different categories:
Film Festival Winners!
- Best Long – Spoil (EP Films and iLCP)
- Best Long-Runner Up-H2Oil (Produced by Sarah Spring and Sergeo Kirby; Directed by Shannon Walsh)
- Best Short- Risking it All (Twyla Roscovich-Calling From the Coast)
- Best Short-Runner Up- Oil in Eden (Damien Gillis and Pacific Wild)
- Most Informative-Risking it All (Twyla Roscovich-Calling From the Coast)
- Most Impactful-Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez (Macumba International)
- Best Community Film- Tribal Journeys (Green Coast Media/Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department)
- People’s Choice- Raising Your Voice (Curtis Campbell and Marion Windsor)
Congratulations to all of the filmmakers!
And thank you to Tisinda Windsor, Marlena Squash, Mercedes Innes and Richard Wilson Hall who
watched nine hours of films to come up with their decision.
In addition to the film screenings we also had ongoing art projects at the youth centre, including the production of a community mural, where local residents and others could come in and have their photo taken with a sign or slogan to be placed on a huge backdrop. We also made action cards to be sent to Prime Minister Harper and prayer flags in the colours of blue, green and black, symbolizing our protest of the Enbridge proposal . Sunday morning, a large group of us headed down to the government dock carrying signs and the prayer flags. Ayla Brown from Youth Voice, read aloud the recent declaration that was written and signed by Alberta First Nations in solidarity with the coastal and
Northern First Nation declarations against the pipeline and tanker traffic.
Prior to the festival was Discovery Week in the Bella Bella Community
School. Throughout the week, sessions and field trips were organized, many with the theme of oil spills. A highlight was bringing 10-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney up from North Vancouver. Ta’Kaiya opened each class session by playing the music video of her song “Shallow Waters” but also had a slideshow presentation about how she has worked to educate herself and raise awareness about pipelines and oil spills, namely using the four Rs. . .Research, Report, Record and Rebuttal. She encourages other youth to learn about the issue, do research, write reports, songs, do artwork, write letters and to do whatever they can to join her as a young person concerned about the future of our environment. She also discusses the need to learn about other points of view in order to be prepared, and also to be respectful. Her mother, Anne Blaney, is a teacher who put together a Tar Sands Jeopardy Game for the older students. The sessions ended with students making their own action cards to send to Prime Minister Harper. All of the kids were truly inspired by Ta’Kaiya, and many wanted her autograph.
If other communities are interested in hosting a similar event we encourage them to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) as we would be more than happy to pass on films, contacts, programming, etc.
A big thank you to all of the presenters:
Eduardo Sousa, Gary Coons, Frank Wolf, Harvey Humchitt, Marilyn Slett, William Housty, Norm Hann, Heather Bryan, Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Phillip Gallant and Matt Gallant. Another big thank you to helpers and volunteers.
We couldn’t have done it without you!
Thanks to David Applebaum, Dennine Reid, Kevin Starr, Curtis Campbell, Kevin Bolton, Noelle Holloway, Jaymyn Lavallee, Joann Green, Colette Heneghen, Alida Reid and the Heiltsuk Elders, April Windsor, Cherish Mason, Marge Housty, everyone who volunteered to provide refreshments, and everyone who donated items for our fundraisers and participated in fundraising events. And last but not least, thanks to the hard work of Ayla Brown from Bella Bella Youth Voice, Jessie Housty from QQS Projects Society, Brenda Humchitt from the Bella Bella Community School, and Diana Chan from Pacific Wild for making the first Gathering Coastal Voices Festival happen.
All were a pleasure and inspiration to work with.