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A Cedar Is Life

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Catalogue Number:  LESS05
Producer:  Less Bland Productions
Producers:  Bland, Leslie
Directors:  Bland, Leslie
Producing Agencies:  Orca Cove Media
Subject:  Archaeology, Canadian History, Canadian Social Studies, Documentary, Environmental Studies, First Nations Studies, History, Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Peoples, Science, Social Sciences, Social Studies
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2022
Running Time:  92:05

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A Cedar Is Life explores how one critical species, the cedar tree, is central to the cultural life of West Coast First Nations. The film follows the journey of Archeological Consultant and Cultural Worker Harold C. Joe as he discovers more about the cedar.

The documentary weaves together interviews with elders, mask carvers, medicinal harvesters, canoe makers, totem carvers, cedar bark weavers, those working with traditional food and cooking, and other hands-on practitioners all along the West Coast (from Cowichan to Haida Gwaii) who speak to their craft, and how all parts of the tree were – and still are – important to make use of.

Woven throughout the interviews is the image of Cedar Woman, based on a Cowichan legend, highlighting the importance of cedar’s spirit, existing as a living entity.

The evolution of artistic practice is investigated, exploring the difference between modern techniques and traditional methods, while also highlighting the importance of protecting this species throughout the film. We look at ways in which this critical species is bridging cultural gaps in the present day, and how the passing down of knowledge to the next generation is essential for promoting strength of culture in so many Indigenous communities.

This film had its World Premiere at the Red Nation International Film Festival. It is a Jury Award Winner at the Quetzalcoatl International Indigenous Film Festival and the Winner of the Audience Favourite Award at the Salt Spring Film Festival. It makes its Canadian broadcast premiere on Super Channel in May 2023. The film is commissioned by Super Channel and CHEK TV, and is supported by Canada Media Fund, Creative BC, and the Rogers Documentary Fund. 


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