With breakout performances by first-time Nunavut-based actors, The Grizzlies is a testament to the spirit, tenacity and leadership of Inuit youth. (Photo contributed)

The Grizzlies, an inspirational true story

Cinemaphile/Joanne Sargent

Happy New Year from all the volunteers of the Shuswap Film Society!

We start our 2019 program with The Grizzlies, an inspirational true story about a teacher who goes to a remote Canadian Arctic community and attempts to inspire his students by introducing them to the game of lacrosse.

In 1998, Russ Sheppard, who presently is a lawyer living in Cranbrook, had just completed his education degree and was hired to teach in Kugluktuk, in what is now Nunavut. With no previous knowledge of life in the North, Russ is shocked and overwhelmed by students with very little interest in school, struggling to find their way in a harsh environment beset by alcoholism, abuse and the highest suicide rate in Canada.

Russ comes up with the idea to use lacrosse, Canada’s national sport and one invented by Indigenous people, to try to combat the misery and hopelessness. Despite initial resistance from both the community and the students, in time Russ earns their trust and the idea catches on.

Related: Cranbrook man inspires movie ‘The Grizzlies’ set to debut at TIFF

The lacrosse team, the Grizzlies, start to have some success and people realize that what they’re doing is working, with amazingly positive affects on school attendance and suicide rates. The youth gain a powerful sense of pride and purpose. The director, Miranda de Pencier, heard about the team through news articles and was moved by the story of the kids banding together and finding inspiration through lacrosse. And one of the film’s producers, Stacey Aglok MacDonald is originally from Kugluktuk, so she has first hand experience of the impact of Sheppard’s program on her community and was committed to bring this story to the screen.

While you could label it a sports movie, it’s so much more than just the healing power of sport. This movie has a lot more to say about life itself and the need to grind your way through its everyday struggles to find purpose and hope.

With breakout performances by first-time Nunavut-based actors, The Grizzlies is a testament to the spirit, tenacity and leadership of Inuit youth, persisting in spite of immense pressure and hardships. The movie deals with some very serious issues; as Sheppard himself said, “I’m dealing with some kids that really trusted all of us to ensure the proper story was told.”

Involving and uplifting, the movie got standing ovations at both the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Grizzlies shows at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5 at the Salmar Classic Theatre.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Man charged in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire granted bail

Accused facing arson charges released with 23 conditions including a 7 p.m. curfew

Signs commemorating Japanese interment in the Shuswap planned

Information on each of the five internment camps in the area will be provided at camp locations

Outdoor ice rink opens in the North Shuswap

Those looking to skate in the fresh air can do so at Farrell’s Field in Celista

Man admits responsibility for 2016 death of Shuswap motorcyclist

Brian Watson, 60, died after being struck while riding his motorcycle on Squilax-Anglemont Road

Super blood wolf moon fills Okanagan skies, to photographers’ delight

Photographers had a rare chance Sunday to capture a rare lunar eclipse

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

9 brains, 3 hearts: Some wild facts about octopuses

Things to know about the giant Pacific octopus, which is naturally found in the waters of the U.S. West coast, the Aleutian Islands and Japan

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Most Read