Gathering at the River, an Anglican Video production about last year’s healing circle in the diocese of Rupert’s Land, was a winner at the Canadian Corporate Television Association awards in Toronto on May 24
In the competition for videos with a budget of less than $30,000, Gathering at the River won a bronze. The 30-minute video was produced by Lisa Barry, Anglican Video?s senior producer, for the diocese of Rupert’s Land’s indigenous council.
It documents the first gathering in the diocese of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Anglicans in a so-called “sacred circle” where participants talked about aboriginal experiences such as loss of land and residential schools.
The location, St. Peter’s church in Dynevor, Man., on the banks of the Red River, had a particular historical and emotional resonance, as it was the place Anglican missionaries worked with natives in the early 19th century to found a church and a settlement. Chief Peguis, a member of the Saulteaux people, converted to Christianity and emerged as an important leader.
Cree, mixed-race and white settlers also lived in the area, known for its prime agricultural land. However, in 1907, the Peguis First Nation sold its riverside land to the government of Canada for $5,000. What was later known as “the surrender” was controversial from the outset. A vote approving the sale was extremely close (107 to 98); it became apparent that many votes were bought by the local Indian agent and many First Nation members didn’t get a chance to vote at all. After “the surrender,” natives were given land further north that was wild and less suitable for agriculture.
The video documents the decision by the Rupert’s Land indigenous council to open the sacred circle to all interested participants, not just to native people. Bishop Don Phillips, the diocesan bishop, said he immediately approved of the gathering “as a way to move forward.”
Gathering at the River moves at a gentle pace, but in its relatively brief 30 minutes catches the rhythm of the events of June 22, 2002. Bishop Phillips repeats primate Michael Peers’ apology for the Anglican church’s role in the native residential schools system. Aboriginal descendants read the writings of Chief Peguis and other leaders. White participants share their concern and pain at hearing stories of injustice toward natives.
At the awards ceremony, Ms. Barry acknowledged all those who participated in the sacred circle for their “honesty and courage in sharing their stories.” Based in Burlington, Ont., the Canadian Corporate Television Association is the professional organization for the makers of corporate videos. Gathering at the River is available for $19.95 from the Anglican Book Centre, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2J6, phone 416-924-1332 or toll free in Canada at 1-800-268-1168.