Two elders from Nibinamik were accompanied by youths on a trip tracing historical canoe routes.
THUNDER BAY — In early September 2019, two elders from the Nibinamik First Nation began a journey along a historic canoe route through their traditional territories.
They were joined on the four-day paddling expedition south from Nibinamik to their hometown of PinnaeMootang by several youths and a Shebafilms crew based in Thunder Bay.
Now, after three years of post-production work, the 24-minute film – Journey to our Homelands – the journey chronicles this week at the 18th annual Vox Popular Media Arts Festival.
Elders Tommy Yellowhead and Stephen Neshinapaise hope the film will help inspire all Matawa First Nations youth to “think beyond Indian lawand begin to reconnect with each other through their lakes, rivers and trails.
Although they are only 50 kilometers apart by air, the canoe route between Nibinamik and PinnaeMootang is longer and includes several ports.
At PinnaeMootang (shown on today’s maps as Eyes Lake), where a homecoming reception was held in the old village, young people were able to experience elements of the life enjoyed by their elders years ago.
Yellowhead left PinnaeMootang to go to school in the early 1960s.
He said it was important to bring young people together “because young people today don’t know much about our history. We wanted to pass on what we knew.”
Yellowhead said they told him they enjoyed the trip and learned a lot.
The Matawa Council of Chiefs supported the mission.
Mawawa First Nations Management CEO David Paul Achneepineskum said the film highlights the history of First Nation people in their traditional territories “long before the Indian Act put us on reserves and the use of the land today.”
Achneepineskum said the film will be a valuable learning and teaching tool for generations to come.
Journey to Our Homelands, directed by Adrien Harpelle, opened this week at Vox Popular Media Arts Festival at Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay.
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