From a media release:
In a ground-breaking addition to itsÂ Heritage MinuteÂ collection, Historica Canada is releasing a pair of newÂ MinutesÂ that explore vital moments in Indigenous history: treaty-making and residential schools. TheÂ MinutesÂ highlight darker chapters of Canadian history and come a year after the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“IfÂ CanadaÂ is going to move towards reconciliation then we have to engage in some hard truths about residential schools and treaties,” saidÂ Shane Belcourt, director of the twoÂ Minutes. “We had so much to say about the issues but only one minute. My hope is theseÂ MinutesÂ lend themselves to a larger dialogue.”
“Chanie Wenjack” tells the story of a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in 1966. Wenjack (known as Chanie to his family, but historically as Charlie) died shortly into his journey. His death sparked the first inquiry into the conditions faced by residential school students. Wenjack’s sister,Â Pearl Achneepineskum, herself a survivor of residential school, shares the story in her own voice.
“Naskumituwin (Treaty)” tells the story of the signing of Treaty 9 through the eyes of a historical witness,Â George Spence. Spence, an 18-year-old Cree fromÂ Albany,Â James Bay, witnessed the treaty signing atÂ Fort AlbanyÂ onÂ August 3, 1905. In the oral history tradition, Spence passed the story of the treaty signing down through his family. His great-granddaughter, Rosary Spence, shares the story as she inherited it.
TheÂ Heritage MinutesÂ were produced by Historica Canada andÂ Toronto-based Wabunganung Film Company Ltd. They were written by acclaimed authorÂ Joseph Boyden. Boyden and filmmakerÂ Alanis ObomsawinÂ provide the iconic end narration for “Wenjack” and “Treaty”, respectively. Additional educational materials for teachers are availableÂ hereÂ andÂ here.
TheseÂ Heritage MinutesÂ were made possible through funding from theÂ OntarioÂ government. Historica Canada thanks Porter Airlines for its generous donation of travel vouchers for this project.