A film based on the work of a celebrated Canadian author will be screened in Sicamous in hopes of addressing the evils of the residential school system and furthering the cause of reconciliation.
Indian Horse, a novel by Richard Wagamese focuses on a young First Nations man’s escape from a horrific experience in a residential school through his skill on the hockey rink and the prejudice he faced on and off the ice. The film version is still playing in theatres after its initial film-festival release in 2017. It is directed by Stephen Campanelli and produced by Clint Eastwood.
The film will be screened publicly at the Eagle River Secondary gym at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25. It will also be shown to the school’s Grade 10, 11 and 12 students earlier in the day as some students in the English 11-12 class are studying Wagamese’s novel.
The film is the first offering of the newly-formed Eagle River Film Club, a group of high school students who plan to host screenings of films which have educational value.
Sierra Greaves-Karpenko, a Grade 11 student and member of the club, said she thinks the film and its source material are a valuable educational tool. She says the film can teach practical lessons about the conditions in residential schools and help inspire empathy in the viewer.
Greaves-Karpenko, who has read the Wagamese novel both on her own time and for a class, says while the novel is more in depth and allows for a more personal connection with the characters, she thinks the film will get many of the same messages and lessons across to the audience.
“For me personally, I hope the club will show movies that showcase stories of personal struggle and help create empathy,” said Greaves-Karpenko, speaking of the future of the newly-formed film club.
Chinook McLean, a teacher and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ally at Eagle River Secondary who helped organize the screening, said the film is both an important cultural and social event for Sicamous and a part of the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District’s work on implementing the TRC’s calls to action. One of the calls to action prescribes making age-appropriate curriculum components about residential schools a mandatory requirement for students.
McLean said Indian Horse’s power as an educational tool lies in its approachability, and how it contains hope while remaining honest about the challenges the main character faces.
The film’s education and entertainment value is improved by the fact that it is contemporary and well produced, McLean said.
“This is exactly the kind of thing that all our students, all students need to watch,” McLean said.
Admission to the 5:30 p.m. showing of Indian Horse will be by donation. Funds raised will help with the club’s start-up costs allowing them to bring more educational films to the community.