In 2017, Canada observed its 150th birthday as a nation, dubbing the year Canada 150.
Some folks had the idea that the title was missing something and designated the year as Canada 150+. That little plus sign recognizes the fact that for thousands of years, our aboriginal nations walked the land and navigated the waters.
As a part of the Canada 150+ celebration here on the Sunshine Coast, a flotilla of 9 canoes (not little ones; great big ones of aboriginal and voyageur design, each with 10 to 15 paddlers) undertook a 140km journey from Egmont to Vancouver.
Against a stunning backdrop of natural and cultural history, a film was created to celebrate both a journey through space and through time. It is called Many Hands – A Cultural Canoe Journey.
The Sechelt people have for thousands of years paddled the waters of the Sunshine Coast, and Many Hands spends a good amount of time documenting this history with fascinating interviews with Sechelt elders and local cultural historians, up through the time of the residential schools, and into the present.
This aspect is balanced perfectly by stunning videography, still imagery, and gorgeous music.
The film’s able director never allows this rare production to lean too heavily to one side or the other: aesthetic beauty and the necessary reminders of the tragedies that followed white settlement are kept in balance. No schmaltz, no browbeating.
The premier was on January 28th, and there will be a second screening at the Raven’s Cry theatre in Sechelt on February 4 at 2:00 pm.
There are plans afoot to put this wonderful film on DVD. The Gibsons Paddle Club, which coordinated the Many Hands project, is likely to do this. They can be reached at www.GibsonsPaddleClub.ca