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Truth, Dance and Reconciliation

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Catalogue Number:  AP0000
Producer:  Aarrow Productions
Producing Agencies:  Aarrow Productions Inc.
Subject:  Arts, Canadian History, Canadian Social Studies, First Nations Studies, History, Social Studies
Language:  English
Grade Level:  6 - 8, 9 - 12, Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2013
Running Time:  43:55
Closed Captions:  Yes

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Truth, Dance and Reconciliation: The story of Canada's residential school system and its traumatic consequences is one of the darkest and most troubling truths about our history, but the Royal Winnipeg Ballet suggested an unlikely - but powerful way for the country to learn and heal from decades of pain.

This documentary explores the one-year artistic gestation of the ballet through footage recorded at dance rehearsals, creative team gatherings, Aboriginal cultural retreats, and on opening night in Winnipeg. Interviews with creative team members and dancers reveal the apprehension they felt while creating and presenting a ballet about this dark side of Canadian history. Going Home Star is the name of their critically acclaimed original ballet, based on a story written for them by 'The Orenda' novelist Joseph Boyden and featuring music from singer/songwriter Tanya Tagaq and the Northern Cree singers. The title comes from the Cree name for the North Star – the Going Home Star – which helped the indigenous people in their navigation.

Powerfully interwoven with the story of the ballet's creation is the story of one former student and her experiences at a residential school. Fifty years later, her story intersects with the stories of the ballet's creators when she attends a performance of Going Home Star. It’s a story of truth, dance and reconciliation. The moving piece was commissioned with the support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The coming-together of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and the unique fusion of European and First Nation art forms to tell the story of Canada's residential schools, marks an important addition to our country's artistic legacy.

Filmmaker Bio: Barbara Todd Hager is a writer, producer and director. Her family traces its Métis ancestry to Red River, Fort Pitt and St. Paul des Métis Settlements. In 1999 she launched Aarrow Productions and it has grown into one of Canada’s leading Indigenous-owned media companies.


“We hope that we’re able to start a conversation among those whowould not necessarily ... have familiarized themselves with thestories of residential school survivors.” - Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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