Logo
View All Playlists
  • Wolf Creek Public Schools - First Contact Series

Wolf Creek Public Schools - First Contact Series





First Contact Series

Unique URL
  Embed Video
Embed Code
Width Height


  Description   Video Chapters   Transcript
Subject(s): Canadian Social Issues, Canadian World Studies, Documentary, First Nations Studies, Guidance, Health and Medicine, Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Peoples, Social Issues, Social Sciences, Social Studies, Sociology
Grade Level:

By and large, Canadians’ opinions about the Indigenous people of this country are formed without any knowledge of the culture’s true history or firsthand experience of the present-day communities. This may explain the prevalence of racist, unsympathetic and generally prejudicial attitudes that are often directed towards this community.  First Contact takes six Canadians on a 28-day journey intended to challenge these attitudes and shed a light on the true Indigenous experience.  The travelers, all with strong opinions about Indigenous people, have been invited to leave their everyday lives behind and embark on a unique journey, travelling deep into the Indigenous communities throughout Canada. It is a journey that will challenge their perceptions and confront their prejudices about a world they never imagined they would see. 

Series includes the following 3 episodes.

  • Episode 1: The Journey Begins
  • Episode 2: A Group Divided
  • Episode 3: A Road to Healing


Running Time: 3 x 45:00
Country of Origin: Canada
Captions: CC
Producer: First Contact Canada Inc.
Copyright Date: 2018
Language: English

TRANSCRIPT

Close
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • What do people really think about Indigenous Canadians?
  • I think of alcoholism. I think of drug abuse.
  • A whole bunch partying and flophouses.
  • They just always get money and handouts.
  • How are they are worst off when they're given so much?
  • We are being made to pay for something that we didn't do.
  • Where's my money going?
  • They don't paint their houses. They don't fix windows.
  • Welfare is not a career.
  • They're angry at white people.
  • They want you to feel sorry for them.
  • Get off your if you're unhappy and go do something about it.
  • Feels like it's a lost cause at this point.
  • Most Canadians have never taken the time to get to know Indigenous people or visit their communities. This group represents those Canadians. All with strong opinions, they've been invited to leave their everyday lives behind and embark on a journey deep into Indigenous Canada.
  • Welcome to all of you right here, to Winnipeg's North End.
  • Ross, a public servant and family man.
  • The past is the past. If you're going to worry about the past, the future's not going to do you no favors.
  • Avonlea, married mother of two.
  • I didn't create a residential school and force anyone into it.
  • Don, truck driver.
  • When somebody says that this is their land, that it always has been, well, actually, it used to belong to dinosaurs.
  • Gym owner, Ashley.
  • I changed my life around. Why can't you do it for yourself?
  • Animal lover, Jamie Sue.
  • It's such a big problem that I feel like I couldn't make a difference at all.
  • Dallas, lobster fishermen and welder.
  • If we're going to continue to support Aboriginal people and not see any results then when is it going to end?
  • These six participants have no idea what's about to happen to them.
  • This could be not so bad, it could be good, or it could be like holy [BLEEP], what did I just sign up for?
  • It will be a journey of surprise that'll will turn their lives upside down.
  • [GUNSHOT]
  • There, you got him. Go, go, go, go!
  • Challenging their perceptions and confronting their opinions.
  • 60 years of residential schools. And when did they figure out it didn't work?
  • For 28 days, the six will face their fears in a world they never imagined they'd see.
  • Pull those gloves on. We need your help.
  • On a journey that could change their lives forever.
  • This is camping for them. For me, it's like hell on Earth.
  • We've been on boiled water advisory 2003.
  • Really, it gets down to we're saving lives.
  • I've got something.
  • It really puts a dark stain on the Canada that I thought I knew.
  • You don't know.
  • [INAUDIBLE]
  • They need money to [BLEEP] live.
  • I'm just having a very hard time understanding.
  • That's not an excuse. You're a prime example of society.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • These six travelers have been invited to experience Indigenous Canada for the next four weeks. Other than that, they know nothing about the journey that lies ahead. They've traveled from different parts of the country to meet in Winnipeg's North End, a notoriously dangerous community, where one in four residents are Indigenous.
  • Here they will meet Michael Champagne of Shamattawa Cree First Nation who will shed some light on what they are about to undertake.
  • I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you here to Winnipeg's North End, Treaty One territory, homeland of the Metis nation, and my hope. Winnipeg's North End is a community that is very well known, sometimes for all the wrong reasons.
  • But what I'm excited about today is to welcome all of you to my community so that you can see with your own eyes, experience with your own bodies, and feel with your own hearts what this community is really about.
  • You can see a certain representation of the medicine wheel where we're standing. And it talks about the four different nations of our world coming together. Talks about four elements coming together. When we have opportunities like this to build a relationship, we have a chance to improve our life and perspective, as well.
  • That's the reason why you're all here today. So that we can figure out some of the experiences of Indigenous People in Canada and understand a little bit of the historical context of how things got to be this way.
  • So I'm curious to know, what experiences have you folks had with Indigenous People in Canada?
  • Oftentimes, you see them inebriated, or you see them passed out on the street.
  • I feel like people are kind of wondering why they're giving all this money, you know, free housing, or education, or programs, or like that, when they're not doing anything with it.
  • Don't come to me bragging about what you can get free from the government when I can't get it.
  • Do you guys feel like any of the perspectives that you carry about Indigenous People are one-sided or potentially ignorant?
  • Oh, absolutely I do. For sure. All I know are stories that people from the white community have told me that they've heard.
  • That's reality. That ain't freaking ignorance, driving through a reserve. A house burns down and stays burned down for years. Nobody goes and tidies it up or cleans it up. You know, to me, first impressions are the key.
  • Ross is a married father of three in Edmonton. He takes great pride in his home.
  • I got nominated for enhancing our vibrant community for Edmonton.
  • But his views on First Nations People aren't pretty.
  • Have you ever had the nicest looking Indian reserve in Canada? Have they ever had that contest? Oh, my god. They'd be fighting for last place. They don't fix windows. If they have a car, it breaks down, it stays in the yard. Take five minutes of your life and get out of bed before noon and tidy up your lawn.
  • Ross's family is well aware of his outspoken opinions.
  • I'm a little worried because, yeah, he doesn't have a filter. No thinking involved.
  • And his views are deeply entrenched.
  • And the big residential school score, everyone's playing that card. We were trying to help them. That was what-- we were trying to indoctrinate them into our society. You know? If we had done nothing, it probably wouldn't have been any different.
  • The perspectives and experiences that you've shared with me today will be challenged in the next few weeks as you experience what Indigenous people in Canada experience. And I have a lot of hope and faith that minds will be changed.
  • The six participants aren't going far for the first leg of their journey. And over 90,000 strong, Winnipeg has the largest Indigenous population in Canada.
  • I'm kind of curious as to where the next adventure is going to lead us to.
  • Yeah. Yeah.
  • Dallas, Ashley, and Ross don't know where they're going next. It makes Dallas nervous.
  • This could be not so bad. It could be good. Or it could be like holy [BLEEP] what did I just sign up for?
  • Dallas is a carefree 26-year-old from New Brunswick.
  • Off to a great day on the tube today. Sun's out, guns out.
  • But his opinions on Indigenous People are less sunny.
  • Do I think that there's advantages to being an Aboriginal or native? Yes, I do. Do I think that they don't take full advantage of those advantages? No, I don't.
  • When it comes to First Nations reserves, Dallas wonders why they even exist.
  • You don't see any Caucasian reserves. Or you don't see any African-Canadian reserves, or anything like that. The things you see with the newspapers, and these areas that they live in, you feel bought from them for a second. And then you wonder why you do.
  • Over in the other group, Avonlea Jamie Sue, and Don are heading to the suburb of Stonewall. But Avonlea assumes they're going somewhere else.
  • Indigenous people live on the reserves in BC. So I would be expecting to go onto a reserve.
  • I have not been to a reservation I don't think ever.
  • If I was to go onto the reserve and stayed at one of those homes, I would want to find a place to go and take a shower first thing in the morning. [LAUGHS]
  • I probably would be described as someone who is very opinionated and not afraid to speak up about how I feel about things.
  • Don is a trucker from Ardrossan, Alberta. He makes no bones about his feelings towards Indigenous People.
  • Let's call it my unity shirt. [LAUGHS] The letters mean assimilate or leave. Fit in or [BLEEP] off. [LAUGHS] A native person by definition is a person who was born here. So I'm a native Canadian. So it upsets me when somebody says that they have better rights because this is their land.
  • He believes that stories of abuse at residential schools are exaggerated.
  • What we're hearing about the residential schools is what their lawyers want you to hear so they can get more money from the government. I can't take away your background, your culture, your language. Why should I, as a taxpaying Canadian, have to pay you for it? So I still don't know where the suffering is.
  • Oh, wow.
  • In spite of their assumptions, the travelers find themselves not on a reserve but in an upper class suburban neighborhood.
  • These are pretty nice places.
  • The group's preconceived notion of what an Indigenous home should look like is challenged.
  • My house doesn't look like this.
  • Mine doesn't either.
  • Well, they all look bigger than my house.
  • But this is more than just a drive by. Don, Avonlea, and Jamie Sue are about to move in with an Indigenous family for the next 24 hours.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Don, Avonlea, and Jamie Sue are spending the night at an Indigenous family's home.
  • [DOORBELL RINGS]
  • This is their first contact.
  • Come on in.
  • I'm Don.
  • Don, nice to meet you.
  • My name is Miina.
  • This is Miina? Hi, Miina. Hi.
  • This beautiful home is a far cry from Don's bleak expectations.
  • What I'm used to for reserve homes, I don't see this as being a reserve home. So I'm OK with this. This is fine.
  • Host Kevin Lamoureux, his wife Jennifer, and daughter Miina, are a hardworking, loving family.
  • Please, dig in.
  • Contrary to Don's beliefs, Jennifer's culture and language was taken from her. She's taking steps now to reclaim it.
  • I just recently got my Indian status. I'm 38. [LAUGHS] I guess the effects of assimilation on my family were just that we kind of lost our culture, our connection to our culture, to our language, and things like that. So it was kind of like, who am I? And like, I'm Indigenous. What does actually mean to me?
  • What does it mean to you for Miina?
  • Well, I think that I didn't need my status to reconnect. But it took a little while to understand why was I growing up in a non-Indigenous community and not having my culture and my language? And why do I not have that connection, you know?
  • My family went through this for generations of assimilation and colonization. And it has impacted my family. And so it was kind of just an acknowledgment of you are First Nations. And we recognize that. And I finally have come to just feel connected to my background and feel OK with my story.
  • The second group of travelers is heading toward the Maples, a neighborhood not typically associated with Indigenous People.
  • Wherever we do go, I just hope that they're just like a welcoming vibe.
  • Ashley is mostly concerned about encountering drunks.
  • Like my experiences with, I guess, Indigenous People, it's wanting to find out, why do you drink so much? If you're miserable, why do you not choose to move?
  • [BLENDER WHIRRING]
  • We all pay our taxes as Canadians. And then we see a lot of the community who are struggling with addictions. And it's like, well, where's my money going?
  • Gym owner Ashley can't understand why Indigenous People can't resolve their issues, like she has.
  • I changed my life around. Why can't you do it for yourself? If I kept harping on the fact that I was emotionally and physically abused by my own family members as a kid, to the point where I wanted to run away and do stupid things to myself. But I've come to realize that no one owes me shit except for myself.
  • They have a lot of issues. It is on them to fix it. Get off your ass if you're unhappy, and go do something about it.
  • Upon arrival at their Indigenous host's home, the group's fears are alleviated.
  • I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that this is a nice area. Do you know what I mean?
  • Hello.
  • Hey.
  • Hi.
  • How are you?
  • I'm Ross.
  • Derrick.
  • You don't mind having total strangers coming to your house?
  • Derrick Hart and his wife Candace live here with their two teenage kids. Achieving this lifestyle wasn't easy. Derek put himself through university working three jobs.
  • As a couple, we always knew down the road we were going to get a house. We wanted to travel. And that mean one thing for us, is that we made sure that we never had any alcohol in the residence, in our house.
  • Yeah.
  • Never.
  • An Indigenous home without alcohol is hard for Ashley to fathom.
  • Like whenever someone says, alcohol and Indigenous, you ask an average Canadian, the first few things that pop in their head are alcoholism, and drug abuse, and abuse. So before you guys kind of got together, did you guys have any issues with your own alcohol or drug abuse?
  • My mother is a single mother. She never allowed alcohol in the house. I think maybe that's where I got it from. From a young age, I was introduced to our culture and everything else. And so I was just used to not having any alcohol in our residence. Our house.
  • Are there a lot of your friends that don't have alcohol in the home?
  • We know a lot of people. Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah. There's a lot of ceremonial people that--
  • Are traditional people.
  • Traditional. They don't--
  • But Ross doesn't believe they represent the majority.
  • They're out in the public, right? You probably wouldn't have to go too many blocks before you see some homeless guy, or some-- right?
  • I think that's the thing too, is that we just wanted our family, our children, being used in that way. There's no alcohol in the home.
  • It doesn't matter what family you belong to. You have Christmas. Some guys come over half in the bag. Doesn't matter if you're--
  • No.
  • No? No?
  • No.
  • No. We keep the alcohol and the drugs away from it.
  • Do you want to do a dance before you get ready for bed?
  • Over in Stonewall, Don, Avonlea, and Jamie Sue are about to see the positive effects of Indigenous culture on four-year-old Miina.
  • Can we get some water?
  • Miina knows that the drum needs some water.
  • It make the skin go not dry any more. This style is the butterfly dance.
  • Oh.
  • [DRUM BEATING]
  • Yay!
  • Yay!
  • Wonderful!
  • [CLAPPING]
  • We made this together as a family at one of the school events.
  • It was demonstrated how to do it. And it was a lot of work. [LAUGHS]
  • As a family, we stretched to hide and we made the drumstick.
  • That is very cool.
  • Yeah. Just to even have the opportunity now in my adulthood and to be a part of that with Minda is just so-- it's amazing.
  • Good night, Miina.
  • Good night, Miina.
  • It's bedtime for Miina, giving the guests a chance to learn that Kevin's life wasn't always like this.
  • Poverty was common when I was growing up. And then everything that comes with poverty, looking for work, looking for reasonable housing, escaping bad situations. I got sober when I was 18 years old. You know, looking back, I was probably drinking alcoholically when I was 12. I was in a desperate situation by the time I was 13. In and out of juvenile detention, drug treatment centers, in trouble with the law, spiraling, suicide attempts.
  • And I started to look to understand some of the causes and conditions. Residential schools have left all kinds of wreckage in our society. And, I mean, the effects of this ripple out into our communities. How much is tied to lack of education, health care, and trouble with the law, finances, economic vibrancy? All of these things go back to this wound, right?
  • I have these moments where I'll go into Miina's room, and I'll rub her back, and I'll sing to her, and I'll try to put her back to sleep. But I have to think about the fact that there was a time as recently as 1996 that the government might not have wanted me to raise my own daughter. Right?
  • And what would her life have been like if instead of her having daddy come in and sing to her or tell her a story, somebody hit her, or yelled at her, or put soap in her mouth for speaking the language that I told her to speak. Right? What would happen to her life?
  • And then what would happen if, instead of my daughter having a chance to heal from that experience, they took her kids away? And then their kids. And then their kids. And their kids. All the way to seven generations.
  • See, as a kid growing up, I wished somebody would take me away because I didn't have to go to school to get beaten. I got beaten at home.
  • You know, and this is the beauty of something like this. So that we can hear each other's stories and have that empathy for each other, right? Because we don't-- we haven't had that opportunity. I need you to understand that residential schools are not your fault.
  • No.
  • It's not on you. I mean, this is the reason I wanted to invite you into my home is because I've seen far too many Canadians walk away from learning about residential schools. There's a sense of guilt that isn't owed to them. They didn't do this.
  • I don't know any of this. How is that possible?
  • Yeah. I can't believe something like that wouldn't be all over the news. It's disappointing.
  • Yeah. The other side of that, though, is that as much as this isn't any of our faults, we do have to make a decision. Even though I'm not responsible for this, do I want to contribute to the solution? And that's for every person to decide.
  • The first day of the journey is done. And there is much for the exhausted travelers to absorb. But their opinions on the experience so far differ.
  • The thought pattern I had showing up to the unknown was a negative connotation right away. And thinking, shit, am I going to be sleeping in a slum? And then we show up to this nice house, with these awesome people. It caught me off guard, thinking, wow, I had a negative thought right off the get go when I shouldn't have.
  • This is a man and his wife who are working and paying their own way. And they've got a beautiful place. People that live in the houses that we saw in the North side, this is probably the greatest percentage. And some of them are working. Some of them may be on welfare. Who knows? I don't know. I know for sure that on the reserves there's lots of people that aren't doing anything except collecting their monthly paycheck.
  • Winnipeg, day two. The travelers pack up and say goodbye to their Indigenous hosts.
  • Good day at the office.
  • Today Jamie Sue, Ross, and Don will experience a very different side of the city. Many of Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women are from Winnipeg. And sadly, some of their remains have been found here, in the Red River. As a woman with her own difficult past, Jamie Sue can empathize with this awful reality more than most.
  • Alcoholism runs in my family really strong on my mom's side. My mom has had her struggles with it that was passed on to me, as well. Yeah. It's definitely generational. I am an animal lover. I have three cats, Missy, Baxter, Parker. And a dog named Chico.
  • Jamie Sue lives in Ingersol, Ontario. Growing up near a reserve, she was taught to fear her Indigenous neighbors.
  • We are told not to really look at them. And we are told not to go on the reserve ever. Like, it's not safe.
  • Today, she still knows little about Canada's First Nations people.
  • The stories that some of these people have gone through in their childhood and stuff, it just seems like it's a whole bunch partying and flophouses, unfortunately. But like any community, there's always going to be those uplifting spirits in it. And I'm sure we'll actually get to meet like that little light in the darkness. And then that will make it into a happy one, 'cause there's always hope.
  • Unlike Jamie Sue, Ross and Don have a little sympathy for the victims or their families.
  • We're hearing about missing and murdered Indigenous women. But we're not hearing about white girls, black girls, Asian girls, whatever. And for all we know, there could be just as many of them that are missing. It still comes down to a choice. Being broke, and poor, and getting addicted to drugs is a choice.
  • They're about to have their views turned upside down. The group has been sent to experience Drag the Red, an Indigenous grass roots initiative that scours the river looking for evidence of missing and murdered people. Started by Bernadette Smith, after her own sister went missing nearly 10 years ago, Drag the Ride is about more than dredging up evidence. It's about healing.
  • It's helping people get involved. It's helping community come together. And it's helping to create change. People are getting involved because they don't want to see this violence anymore.
  • What kind of percentages are we looking at that are Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons?
  • You know, two years ago it was recorded that there were-- well, 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women.
  • Yes.
  • If we were to take that and equate that to Caucasian women, that would equate to about 18,000 missing women.
  • Jamie Sue is floored. These aren't just numbers. They're human beings.
  • It's so sad. It just blows my mind the way that the stereotypes desensitizes so much that it removes the fact that that's an actual person.
  • I mean, media were portraying my sister as this Aboriginal sex trade drug-addicted woman. So it really dehumanizes and gives the public almost permission to put blame on these women. When, in fact, every person has a story. Like, my sister didn't grow up thinking, oh, I want to work the streets and be addicted to drugs. You know, she was sexually abused as a little girl. She was 12 years old, you know, and she was raped. And that really turned her life around.
  • A lot of our stories are similar. We, never in a million years, thought it would happen to us, we need to, as a society, shift the way we think, we act, and we treat each other.
  • So we're just getting our kits together here.
  • Not far away, Ashley, Dallas, and Avonlea are about to get a taste of life on the streets in the North End.
  • You three will come with me.
  • Every night, James Favel lead a group of volunteers called the Bear Clan.
  • OK. Let's do this.
  • Working closely with hospitals and law enforcement, they patrol this largely Indigenous neighborhood to keep residents safe.
  • So we're just keeping our eyes on the ground.
  • There are plenty of dangers.
  • There's a needle over here, James.
  • Needle!
  • Sharps! I guess you've got the sharp's container there.
  • Just five minutes into their walk, Ashley discovers an exposed, used hypodermic needle.
  • It is very scary. These people are just getting high and they're throwing their needles and you know with no regard to kids, anybody else.
  • Growing up on these very streets, James did time in prison before straightening out his life and starting the program.
  • When I was younger, the reason why I got into trouble was because I wanted money. Money to buy things that I couldn't afford. The women, they find themselves in a position where they're trying to tend for kids that don't have enough money to support. Man goes to prison. They got to do what they got to do to survive. Next you know, they're turning tricks or whatever else.
  • Yeah. Yeah. So you kind of feel like it's a cycle, almost.
  • Abso-freaking-lutely.
  • Yeah. And it all stems just from--
  • Poverty.
  • --poverty.
  • Hello there.
  • Hi.
  • What's going on with you? You're OK?
  • [LAUGHS] Good. Good, good, good.
  • But it's the high number of unsupervised kids on the streets that shocks Ashley and Avonlea.
  • It's, what? 7:30 in the evening. And there's no parents around. And is it a good thing that they're out, being Independent? Or is it a bad thing that they're alone? And it appears like neglect. It's alarming to me, being a mom.
  • Avonlea is a married, stay at home mom in Chilliwack, BC.
  • I have two boys. They're one and two. I would definitely classify as in the middle class. And my mom helps us out quite a bit. With having one income, we really have to work at it. We have a house. We're paying the mortgage off.
  • When she compares her situation to that of an Indigenous family's--
  • Here, you help Roy. Come here.
  • --she feels put out.
  • I'm not sure how it works on the reservations. But I think they're given a house. They didn't earn the dollar to pay for that house. Whereas in my house, I have to work hard for everything we have. And my husband works hard for the money. It's a nice idea to think that you just get some money from the government and don't have to worry about things.
  • Back there, we're watching all the kids. Some of them don't have shoes on. And they're walking around in the grass. The same grass we're looking for--
  • Needles.
  • Yeah. Paraphernalia. Where-- where are the parents? And where--
  • Well, she was right there on the corner. One of them. And the dad was the other one with that little blonde girl.
  • Mom's right there. Why--
  • Why aren't they doing better?
  • --isn't she saying anything?
  • Can't answer that. Part of the sickness that comes with the living like this. The thing that the Indigenous community has lost is that connectivity between the family members. The culture was taken away. Language was taken away. Land was taken away. Like the family unit was destroyed. There's a mental sickness that comes along with that.
  • Ashley's not convinced. She can't understand why Indigenous People can't overcome their issues, like she has.
  • Instead of making excuses like, I'm not getting enough money to live, like why don't you get up, man up, and go find a job?
  • Yeah. Well, when you've had a criminal record it's not-- it's not that easy. So there's barriers to education. There's barriers to employment.
  • You come from someone who had a criminal record.
  • That's right. But worked very hard to get here.
  • And look where you are. Exactly.
  • It's not impossible.
  • Exactly.
  • But it's not easy.
  • And you're a perfect example of where you can go.
  • Yeah. But I'm not typical. Remember, as an Indigenous Person, these kinds of things are pervasive through our community. Barriers to education. Barriers to employment. And a lot of people don't have the skills, the tools, to overcome those barriers. So that's why we're here is to try to help them.
  • But I learned. I took courses. That's my thing.
  • That's right. But that's you.
  • I'm just having a very hard time understanding. That's my thing.
  • Yeah. It's not universal. People suffer in different ways.
  • Out on the Red River, the other group is looking for evidence of missing and murdered women with Drag the Red.
  • Going down the river looks beautiful, but underneath, there's a whole bunch of tragedy, and bad memories, and graves for people who came to an end that they didn't deserve. So it's almost surreal.
  • They stop near an old railway bridge gathering debris from down river. It takes little time to snag something.
  • Oh.
  • What's at the bottom of that chain is what would be interesting.
  • Oh, geez.
  • The prospect of finding something weighs heavily on Jamie Sue.
  • The very first time that we pulled it up, there's like a moment of high anxiety, and what ifs that really popped into my mind.
  • Holy crap.
  • Someone could put a body in there and throw that in there, right? Keep it down.
  • Now it's Jamie Sue's turn to drag the bottom.
  • Part of me really wanted to find something to help someone. But at the same time, a whole bunch of fear. Like, what if this is something that's going to haunt my dreams? Or-- it's just intense. Oh, I got something.
  • That's only here.
  • Yeah.
  • Can you grab it? Ready? And I'll check on the hook to see what's--
  • I think it let go. Yeah. It let go.
  • It's been a long night. And some of the travelers have been profoundly affected by what they've experienced.
  • Before, it was something I would see on the news, and not often enough in my opinion, because I didn't really understand the magnitude of the situation. So it's definitely part of my life now and very real to me.
  • You get to hear these stories, man, and you get to really see what's going on instead of just driving by it.
  • But not everyone is convinced.
  • Well, my opinion hasn't really changed. I think that the weaker the family group is, the further in the hole it goes, basically. I would personally say, yeah, it's a waste of time.
  • Family, when it's a generational mess, how can they support someone when they're dealing with their own trauma and their own addiction? You know, you don't have that solid foundation to grow from. I hurt for these people. But at the same time I'm happy that they're able to come together out of their pain and try to help other people with their grief.
  • There's got to be a line where the excuses stop and the actions start.
  • The second leg of the journey has begun. The group will have their views confronted in one of the most isolated places in Canada. The travelers don't know it, but they've been invited to Kimmirut, a remote Inuit community on the Western shore of Baffin Island.
  • Well, it's got wings and an engine. We're good.
  • The cold northern air is a shock to the system.
  • It's freezing. They said it was six. But I call bullshit. I think there's a negative beside that.
  • With no roads on this unforgiving Arctic terrain, air travel is the group's only way in or out of Kimmirut.
  • You got to feel like you're definitely a little more remote on this side of the country, for sure.
  • Yeah. There's no trees. Not a tree to be had.
  • Geez, there's a tree line where they ceased to grow.
  • Yeah.
  • [LAUGHS] I didn't know that.
  • It's what we signed up for. It's going to be an adventure.
  • The view of the northern landscape is both breathtaking and humbling for Dallas and the group.
  • I've never felt so foreign in my own country.
  • The travelers are welcomed to the community by local Zack Camilla.
  • Thank you.
  • I think you'll like it here.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah. But it's kind of chilly. [LAUGHS]
  • Kimmirut has less than 400 residents, 90% of them Inuit. Many of them still rely on hunting as a way of life. Don, Avonlea, and Ashley are welcomed into the home of Jeannie and Elijah [? Padluck. ?]
  • [INDISTINCT CONVERSATIONS]
  • Like most elders here, Jeannie and Elijah speak only Inuktitut. Zack translates for the group.
  • Thanks for coming to my community.
  • Out of respect for her guests, Jeannie's prepared a store bought meal. But it's far from what she'd typically serve her family.
  • So what would be an example of local food?
  • [SPEAKING INUKTITUT]
  • Seal.
  • [SPEAKING INUKTITUT]
  • Whale.
  • No.
  • [LAUGHTER]
  • Ashley's chance to try local food will come sooner than she thinks.
  • Really?
  • Across town, Dallas, Ross, and Jamie Sue shop at the local store for dinner.
  • $11 for a bottle of ketchup. Holy Lord.
  • Yeah.
  • Wow.
  • Somebody is making a killing somewhere.
  • Well, supply and demand at its finest right there.
  • After paying the bill, Ross is left with a serious case of sticker shock.
  • I think I-- $5 for this. $5. Pretty disgusting, the prices these poor people are paying.
  • Back Jeannie's house--
  • Yum, yum, yum, yum.
  • Looks nice and red.
  • --a local delicacy has been delivered, freshly killed caribou, prepared the traditional way: raw.
  • Would you like to try some?
  • What, raw? No.
  • Why not.
  • Yes, you do.
  • No. No, I don't even eat pig.
  • I'm full. I am so full.
  • Oh, just have a bite actually. That's what I say. I like to have some.
  • For them, it was a real treat. And trying it, it wasn't my thing. I think it was a mental thing because you could see so much blood.
  • So do you eat the stomach?
  • Oh, yeah. Yeah. It tastes like grass.
  • Ashley finally gives in.
  • It tastes like steak.
  • [SPEAKING INUKTITUT]
  • Delicious.
  • You know what? It actually tastes good. Actually, it actually tastes really good.
  • It's all part of the sharing economy Inuit people have lived by for centuries.
  • We share seal, fish. We don't exchange in bargaining. We distribute in share and everyone gets a bite.
  • It's day two in Kimmirut. Dallas, Ross, and Jamie Sue are about to have the adventure of a lifetime.
  • Hello.
  • Anya.
  • Anya, a local hunter, his daughter, and the Padluck family are taking them out on the frigid Arctic waters for a seal hunt. It's an experience few Canadians will ever have.
  • Oh, my god. There's an iceberg over here. That's insane. That's my iceberg, ever.
  • But for animal lover Jamie Sue, the thought of hunting a seal is gut wrenching.
  • I personally am not comfortable with killing an animal. I don't know how I will handle it.
  • Dallas, on the other hand, is ready for the kill.
  • Let's see how they live. Let's see how they provide. I'll pull you on board. I want to get a seal. I want to get two seals.
  • But stalking a suitable seal in open water isn't easy, particularly at this time of year.
  • When you shoot them, they float to the top?
  • Not much fat right now. Summertime, they sink when we shoot them. We've got to be quick.
  • What would you do with the seal? Just put it in the boat?
  • Yeah.
  • Ah!
  • The foggy conditions make it nearly impossible for the Inuit hunters to spot a seal. But the travelers are about to learn how determined they are to succeed.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Back in Kimmirut--
  • Whoa! [LAUGHS]
  • You schooled me!
  • --Don, Ashley, and Avonlea have seen all sides of the community, including a session with a local carver.
  • What do you use for the eyes?
  • I just [BLOWS THROUGH LIPS].
  • Yeah.
  • But a chance meeting at lunch--
  • Hi.
  • --starts a conversation that will alter their perspective on Inuit life.
  • You know that old saying, eh? Walk a mile in my shoes and you will understand.
  • They talk with Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo, here for a town hall meeting.
  • I think the biggest challenge for Aboriginal people is just ignorance.
  • Yeah.
  • Recently, he's gone public about issues with alcoholism stemming from his time at residential school. Prior to this journey, Ashley wasn't aware that residential schools even existed.
  • I can't say I knew anything about the residential schools with Aboriginals. Never knew that it was a problem.
  • It was probably the darkest period of my life.
  • OK.
  • Had no family. You feel like you're all alone. I mean, if you look at the whole concept behind it was to assimilate Indigenous young people. Hector-Louis Langevin, he was one of the architects. And he said, you know, the only way to take the Indian out of somebody is to take them away from home. You can't leave them in their homes. Basically, it was cultural genocide.
  • I mean, if you know my story. I went through a heck of a year last year. When I went through treatment, I faced a lot of stuff.
  • Right?
  • You know, I thought all this stuff happened to me. How could it bother me? It didn't bother me. Look at me. I'm successful.
  • Yeah.
  • But, you know, until I sat down and faced it, I realized how much of an impact those things had happened to me in my life had on me and that I needed to deal with them.
  • The government is trying to put money towards Indigenous people, and to the counselors and therapists. People don't want to go. They don't want that help.
  • The programs and resources in southern Canada have been there for years. And all of the land that Inuit reside in, in Canada, not one single treatment center.
  • Wow.
  • Not one.
  • Yeah.
  • You know, it takes a lot of courage for someone to go and say, I need help. I need to talk someone. Up here, it's like you may have like a psychologist would come in. And then so they open up and they go and they talk to someone, and they've laid their soul out to them. Then that person is gone. Someone else comes in. They've got to start all over again.
  • Yeah.
  • Going through that is hard enough once. Having to do it multiple times, it's just too much.
  • Sucks.
  • And they need programs there to help people heal from that.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • On the icy shores of Baffin Island, Dallas, Jamie Sue, and Ross are hunting seals. But so far, they've got nothing. So their Inuit hosts take them on shore to try their luck at Arctic char. Upstream is a traditional fish trap that makes catching easy. But getting there is anything but. The hike gives the group a new respect for the Inuit people who survived here for generations.
  • I don't know how they could have done it. Because you don't see no trees where you could like have fire, or like any wood where you can make shelter. Like, I don't think I could last two days up here by myself, man. You know want I mean?
  • Dallas and the others can barely keep up with their 78-year-old guide.
  • [SPEAKING INUKTITUT]
  • But upon arrival, the fish trap is overrun with water and there are no char to harvest.
  • I guess in normal weather when there's not so much rain, the fish get trapped in there. And they were able to just grab them out.
  • With no seal and now no fish, the weary travelers get a taste of how hard life on this rugged land can be. Wild blueberries are a welcome find.
  • This is a tough place to live and survive.
  • I couldn't do it. I couldn't live out here. You got to look at these people. They're the true Canadians when I really think about it.
  • These people are the hardy ones, I'll tell you.
  • Yeah. They're the cornerstone, if you ask me.
  • Back in Kimmirut, the revelation about residential schools has driven a wedge between the Avonlea and Ashley and Don.
  • I'm still skeptical about the whole school thing. Because it was all, they stole our kids. They ruined our family.
  • But that's the wrong thing to focus on.
  • They took us all away. That was-- that connotation of that is it was a violent taking of all the children away from the families.
  • It's not focusing on, they took their culture. They took their language away.
  • No, you can't take someone's culture.
  • Yes, you can.
  • You can teach them a new culture. And if they don't--
  • But if they're forcing them--
  • Then that's negating their own culture.
  • They're forcing them not to speak that language, that's taking it away.
  • Yeah.
  • That's taking their human right away. I think regardless of how it was done and the intention that was there, what happened to them--
  • Inside of the school, it was disgusting.
  • It was absolutely disgusting.
  • You're saying that what they actually went through. And I'm saying maybe they did. But I-- I haven't seen actual proof of it yet.
  • I haven't seen proof of your life.
  • No. You haven't seen proof of my life.
  • So, I mean, I'm not denying that that happened.
  • But I-- I can give you firsthand knowledge of what happened to me.
  • I'm getting firsthand knowledge. That's why I'm here.
  • In spite of what he's heard, Don still clings to the belief that residential schools may have been a good thing for Indigenous people.
  • You know, if I heard that all these kids that were in residential schools were taken kicking and screaming out of their homes and their parents were kind of pushed aside to do that. That's bad. That's really bad. And I agree that it's bad. In the meantime, I'm still skeptical.
  • Coming into a community, you want to make sure that you listen instead of talk over them. Because I don't think you can come in just guns blazing and say you know everything. That's the epitome of ignorance.
  • Back on the Arctic coast, it's been a fruitless day of hunting. Not a single seal. Frozen and exhausted, Dallas is miserable.
  • This isn't fun. This isn't good. If we go missing, no one would know. No one would know. Not here. No chance. Just want this day to be over with, to be honest with you. I just want it to fast forward and just be in Kimmirut or somewhere that's not here.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • It's day two of the seal hunt, and Dallas has hit the wall.
  • Haven't had a shower this morning. Haven't been able to brush my teeth. This is camping for them, you know? This is kind of like their getaway. For me, it's almost like hell on Earth.
  • But for Ross, the hunt has helped him develop a new appreciation for the Inuit people.
  • I was chasing some 78-year-old lady yesterday, couldn't even keep up with her. Maybe I ought to give the generations and generations prior these people big huge props because I don't know how they do it. They got skills that we don't have.
  • After breakfast, Ross and Jamie Sue sit down with Jeannie's son, Napa. They're about to discover they have more in common than they thought.
  • Most of the stuff you hear is just like, nothing but drunks or druggies or whatever. And that's really not true. Because the whole community is so close. Everybody helps out everybody. Respecting your elders. Respecting what other people have taught you. Keep that in your brain, in your soul, in your heart. It's just our way of life. And just try to maintain it as best we can.
  • Yeah. It's all about kindness and really striving to help other people instead of putting yourself first, right? But we've lost a lot of that back home.
  • Kimmirut people are very proud to be Inuit. We always tell them, try and learn the Inuit way of life all the time. Make that number one.
  • The team leaves for Kimmirut. The conditions are perfect to spot a seal. Their patience pays off. Napa catches sight of a ring seal resting on an iceberg. But it senses danger and vanishes into the depths.
  • It went straight down. Clear day like this. Flat water. Lose him. It's how good they are.
  • It's not long before they track another in a small cove. They just need a clean shot.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • [GUNSHOT]
  • There! You got him! Go, go, go!
  • They rush over, but it's too late. This seal has sunk out of reach.
  • It's sinking hard.
  • Leaving nothing behind but a trail of blood.
  • He's going down fast.
  • Ah, man. That so close.
  • Yeah.
  • The hunt ends with a kill, but no payoff of food. For animal lover Jamie Sue it's hard to take.
  • Well, it's a waste of a life. Nobody wins there. Animal killed and no one's benefiting from it.
  • But for the Inuit families who rely on seal as a main source of food, it's an accepted reality.
  • It's like a 50/50. Either it's going to drop like a rock, like that one did. Or they're going to float. You can't distinguish which one is going to float or which one is going to sink. So, you know, you only know after you shoot it. Going to feed the ocean. And they're feasting now. So they're all happy. Somebody is happy. Somebody is always happy.
  • After a long ride home, the two groups come together. Their experiences in Kimmirut have left a lasting impression.
  • I am more open to the experience. And maybe coming in, I was more judgmental. And now I'm feeling a little less like that.
  • To be completely honest, I thought they'd be more wild. Like really and just running around killing stuff. But it's completely not like that. So it's just helping form my opinion that we're all people on the inside. And we have a lot more similarities than I thought that we would, for sure.
  • These people are a special breed of people, man. They're very happy with their friends and family. And you could just tell there's so much joy in kids. You cannot say these people don't have the work ethic and drive to go out and get it, man. These people, man. That's crazy. That's crazy. Look at that.
  • Their time in Nunavut is over. But the six have no idea about the trials that lie ahead.
  • The final destination is Muskrat Dam, Ontario.
  • I'm the minority here.
  • It's definitely one of those feelings, it's like, ah, it's kind of scary.
  • The seed that was planted in this reserve was residential school.
  • We can't keep worrying about what happened--
  • Come on, man. Let's not be oblivious to this fact.
  • You're not [BLEEP] getting it.
  • It's not-- I am getting it.
  • Why are you here?
  • I'm the average white guy, honestly.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • What do people really think about Indigenous Canadians?
  • I think of alcoholism. I think of drug abuse.
  • A whole bunch of partying and flophouses.
  • They just always get money and handouts.
  • How are they the worst off when they're given so much?
  • We are being made to pay for something that we didn't do.
  • Well, where is my money going?
  • They don't paint their houses. They don't fix windows.
  • Welfare is not a career.
  • They're angry at white people.
  • I mean, they want you to feel sorry for them.
  • Get off your ass if you're unhappy and go do something about it.
  • Feels like it's just a lost cause at this point.
  • Most Canadians have never taken the time to get to know Indigenous People or visit their communities. This group represents those Canadians. All with strong opinions, they've been invited to leave their everyday lives behind and embark on a journey deep into Indigenous Canada.
  • Welcome all of you right here to Winnipeg's North End.
  • Ross, a public servant and family man.
  • The past is the past. If you're going to worry about the past, the future not going to do you no favors.
  • Avonlea, married mother of two.
  • I didn't create a residential school and force anyone into it.
  • Don, truck driver.
  • When somebody says that this is their land and it always has been. Well, actually, it used to belong to dinosaurs.
  • Gym owner, Ashley.
  • I changed my life around. Why can't you do it for yourself?
  • Animal lover, Jamie Sue.
  • It's such a big problem that I feel like I couldn't make a difference at all.
  • Dallas, lobster fishermen and welder.
  • If we're going to continue to support Aboriginal people and not see any results, then when is it going to end?
  • On the first leg of their journey, the participants had their perceptions confronted in Winnipeg.
  • I'm just having a very hard time understanding.
  • It's not universal. People suffer in different ways.
  • Then they were pushed to the limit in one of the most isolated places in Canada.
  • This is camping for them. For me, it's like hell on Earth.
  • Where killing a seal had a dramatic effect.
  • [GUNSHOT]
  • Well, it's a waste of life. Nobody wins there.
  • And now, the journey is about to get even more intense.
  • We're sticking out like [BLEEP] orange jumpsuits, man.
  • The group experiences their first isolated reserve in northern Ontario.
  • We've been on boiled water advisory 2003.
  • Then they have their opinions challenged in the heart of Alberta.
  • 60 years of residential schools. And when they figure it out, it didn't work.
  • And members of the group start to turn on each other.
  • You don't know.
  • I am not finished yet.
  • It doesn't matter, man. They need money to [BLEEP] live.
  • You're not getting it.
  • Why are you here?
  • I'm the average white guy, honestly.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The six travelers have completed their stay in Kimmirut. And they have no idea where they're going next.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard to [INAUDIBLE] charter flight heading to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. We will just be stopping there for fuel. The final destination is Muskrat Dam, Ontario. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.
  • Where?
  • Woo!
  • So we've got three hours and what? Three hours and what?
  • I have no idea.
  • I never heard-- I--
  • It doesn't sound that appealing.
  • Muskrat Dam is one of several fly in reserves in northern Ontario. These communities are often associated with addictions, tragedy, and violence, as reported in the news. But in reality, most Canadians know little to nothing about life here.
  • Welcome to Muskrat Dam.
  • Yeah. Nice. Thanks.
  • Hey, nice to meet you.
  • Welcome to Muskrat Dam.
  • Thank you.
  • Today, the six travelers are about to get fully immersed in life in a remote Indigenous reserve.
  • So we've been in this area a long time. At least 7,600 years. That's what we can prove that we've been on these lands.
  • Wow.
  • Led by Chief Stan Beardy, Muskrat Dam is an independent community of just 300 residents from both Cree and Ojibway Nations.
  • We still live to a large extent our traditional lifestyle. We hunt, fish, and trap. We speak our own language here, Oji-Cree. It's the combination of Cree and Ojibway. Further north, they speak the Cree language. And below us, they speak Ojibway. So we're in the middle there. So we call ourselves Oji-Cree, a combination of a little bit of both.
  • We don't have any developing here. It's a fly in community. So we don't have any transmission line. And we have our water, our own water plant. So we run everything ourselves here.
  • But maintaining a healthy, progressive community up here isn't easy. And the six are about to understand just how difficult it is.
  • So we thought when we went up north, you were more isolated. You actually might be more isolated here.
  • For Jamie Sue, being on a reserve is a first. Growing up, she was taught to fear Indigenous People.
  • We were told not to go on the reserve ever. It's not safe. Just seems like it's a whole bunch of partying and flophouses, unfortunately.
  • Now that she's here, it's nothing like she imagined.
  • It reminds me of cottage country, really. Like kind of has that look and feeling to it.
  • With no hotel or available housing, the six are forced to sleep in tents in the center of the reserve.
  • There you go.
  • For Dallas, the idea is nerve-wracking. You don't hear gunshots at night or anything like. But there feels like there's a sense of insecurity because, for one, I'm the minority here. For two, the police, there's only about two of them. It's definitely one of those feelings that it's like, ah, it's kind of scary.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • After an uneventful night, Ashley, Avonlea, and Don are up early to help some local fishers with their daily catch.
  • All right. Now how do I-- oh, this guy's alive.
  • Yeah.
  • How do you grab them? Ah, sorry, dude.
  • While Dallas, Ross, and Jamie Sue get a firsthand look at the reserve, led by Chief Beardy.
  • We're going to take a tour of Muskrat Dam. Everything that you see is locally owned and controlled.
  • From the town's store to a family addiction's treatment center to a local daycare, Muskrat Dam manages everything on its own.
  • So this is our water plant. I don't know when it was designed. Maybe 30 years ago. Inside, all the moving parts are obsolete.
  • Oh, really?
  • Obsolete?
  • Obsolete.
  • But the group is about to learn that the water coming out of the taps here is nothing like home.
  • The water, it's drinkable? Or--
  • Well, no. We've been on boil water advisory 2003.
  • And is that just because of the contaminants in the water? Or the filtration?
  • It was out of this time, we have here in terms of filtering system was not adequate.
  • Yeah.
  • Wow.
  • Isn't that kind of wrong though? Don't you kind of think that's like not right?
  • That's the way it is.
  • Yeah. That's the way it is. But--
  • But that's-- but that's the way it is, unfortunately.
  • Right. But, I mean--
  • It's all right unfortunately.
  • Yeah.
  • Muskrat Dam is among 140 reserves in Canada that lack the resources to provide safe drinking water for its people. The revelation shocks Jamie Sue.
  • They want the basic necessities of life. It should be available to them, including water to drink. I don't feel like anyone should have to boil their water in Canada. You know, like, everyone should have an equal standard of living if they so choose.
  • Later in the day, the men traveled to the local school while the women visit the health center.
  • Hello?
  • Hello. I'm Ashley.
  • I'm Mariah. Nice to meet you.
  • Mariah Beardy is the health director.
  • So this is the clinical side here. We only have two nurses each day. There is no ambulance. We only have one medical van which is not in very good shape.
  • They also like a resident doctor. For Avonlea, a mother of two, the situation is unthinkable.
  • I think this health center is similar to the one I grew up near. The difference being the doctors are in the town. So it's easier to be treated. But I can't fathom not having a doctor here right away.
  • I had a very scary situation where I almost lost my youngest. She came down very fast with pneumonia. And there was no nurse. So I called the nearest town and said, what do I do? Like my daughter's--
  • Barely breathing.
  • --turning blue. And she told me, go do what you can to go bust into that nursing station. Your daughter's lacking oxygen. We busted into the health center and we got the oxygen in her. And meanwhile, I was talking to a nurse on speakerphone who was instructing me what to do. There was a float plane there. Somebody went to go pick up that nurse. She came flying in here. And my daughter was Medivac'd.
  • So that's scary. That's a--
  • That was a very--
  • --a serious situation.
  • Very serious.
  • Mariah's story hits close to home with Avonlea. My son was two weeks old and he had meningitis, bacterial meningitis. He's OK now, but if he was here, he would have died. Why stay here if a lot of people need medical treatment? Why is the community still here? Not closer to civilization?
  • Like for me, I was born here. I was born in my community, in my house, in my mother's house. One of our teachings is to teach our children where they belong, to have a sense of belonging within their own people. Like we feel that connection with each other.
  • Over at Samson Beardy Memorial School, the men have a moment to reflect on their time here so far.
  • They put themselves into this kind of environment.
  • Yeah.
  • And it's not good.
  • You know, we-- what do you call it? They're just throwing good money after bad.
  • Yeah. I just-- I just-- I mean, I-- I've never seen a copy of an original treaty. But I would be willing to bet that 150 years ago the treaty didn't say, we'll send you millions of dollars a year to do what you need to do with it. And you can keep asking for more, and more, and more. I don't think the treaty said that.
  • No.
  • But for the first time on the journey, Dallas doesn't align with Ross and Don's way of thinking.
  • There is a huge debt owed to these people regardless. They were treated unfairly from the word go, if you ask me.
  • Well, I don't know. I don't know.
  • My generation, which is 50 years old, my generation never went to residential schools. 50 or 100 years from now, well, my great great grandfather that was in a residential school, I'm an out-- I'm a-- you know, a--
  • No, no, no, no, no, no.
  • That's what I'm saying.
  • This is what we're dealing with today.
  • There's a-- whatever's happened with native kids, it's happened with white kids, too.
  • Yeah.
  • There's nothing different.
  • I think so, too.
  • The men are about to get schooled on the realities of Indigenous education.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • In Muskrat Dam, Ontario, Don, Ross, and Dallas are learning how tough it is to educate youth in a remote, fly in community.
  • We have five classrooms. All our teachers are from the community.
  • Oh, nice.
  • Somebody said that it was kind of unique that way.
  • Roy Morris is the school's education director.
  • In Muskrat Dam we have a bilingual, bicultural education program. And it's been going on for abut 10 years now. We just really believe that the academics are embedded in any culture. Our education journey as a native people, it's always been mainstream society's education. Our visitors have always wanted to change us according to their terms.
  • Roy cares for 49 students from grades one to eight. But earning a diploma means attending high school in far off Thunder Bay.
  • If you had a wish, would you wish that they all stayed here for the grade 12?
  • I suppose we would like to see them--
  • Yeah. You'd like to see them stay?
  • Yeah. Stay here. Yeah. But financially it's not possible.
  • The communities in this region have a long legacy of losing their youth to far off schools.
  • Have you only went to school in this community here?
  • No.
  • You went-- you had to leave here?
  • I went to different communities.
  • Right. Right?
  • I went to residential school. I was born in the bush. And my mom and dad went up and down the river trapping and fishing, and all that. One Fall, a plane came in early, about 9:00. And you know how little kids are.
  • Excited.
  • Excited. They wanted to see what's happening. We all went down to the dock. A pilot came in. And there were children right in front of him. And he picked up the children and put them into the plane.
  • I slipped away. And my brother was one of the people that got picked up and then put into the plane. And my mother came out and said, your breakfast is ready. Could you go and get your brother? And I told her, I can't. And she said, why not?
  • And I looked across the lake and there was a little wee speck of a plane. And I told her, my brother is in that plane. Same thing happened the next year. And this time I didn't get away. And I don't know where my brother ended up. I ended up in the so-called Sioux Lookout Pelican Residential School.
  • Was it for-- do you-- do you honestly believe that it was for the better for these children? Were they thinking--
  • Oh, no, no, no. No. Do you have a child?
  • I don't. I don't.
  • You don't. Well, once you have a child you'll get to love that child--
  • Unconditionally.
  • -- as soon as they're born.
  • Right.
  • Yeah.
  • Right.
  • Imagine a child being five years old. And I come and I take your child away.
  • I couldn't. I couldn't imagine.
  • Aha, there you are.
  • No, you're right.
  • It's not good.
  • No. No, I understand that.
  • It's never good to take a child away from their family. But I grew up on the land. That was my early childhood education. So I knew what my culture was. I knew what my language was. And that helped me survive residential school. And that also was my calling to get back home.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The importance of keeping families together at home starts to sink in for Dallas.
  • I couldn't imagine that happening to my brother or sister. You know, as a sibling, you would just-- you'd be heartbroken. From my perspective, I think that is one of the most cruel things that anybody could ever do to anybody, any family, in any situation.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The travelers' time in Muskrat Dam is up. All the six know about the next leg of their journey is that they are leaving an isolated, fly in reserve for a community deep in the heart of Alberta. 45 minutes south of Edmonton is Maskwacis, an amalgamation of four Cree reserves, Samson, Montana, Louis Bull, and Ermineskin. Trucker Don's driven this highway many times and his perception of Maskwacis is based solely on what he's seen passing by it.
  • A comment that I made before about this reserve is you used to drive down the road. And when you started seeing piles of garbage in the ditch, you knew you were there.
  • With a population over 17,000, Maskwacis has a reputation for gangs, crime, and a high suicide rate. For the travelers, seeing the visible effects on the community for the first time, it's shocking.
  • There's graffiti all over there.
  • Oh, oh, OK.
  • A tarp instead of a wall. OK.
  • Right here, garbage TDI.
  • Yeah.
  • They've got graffiti all over them and--
  • The last time I was here, these houses weren't here. And right now, they look like they've been here for 40 or 50 years.
  • It's not very welcoming.
  • No.
  • Ross, who lives in nearby Edmonton, is struck by something else.
  • You notice you never seen any people?
  • Yeah. Why?
  • If you get out of your house, that means you have to go somewhere, do something. Stay home, you don't do anything.
  • But he's about to have that assumption turned on its head.
  • Why-- why are they pulling in there?
  • Oh, they're all camping here.
  • There's a powwow going on. That's why.
  • Is it?
  • Yeah. There's a powwow.
  • Oh, look at it. So that's where everybody is.
  • Most of the community's residents are here at the Samson Cree powwow. For three days, they will sing, dance, drum, and honor their culture.
  • Wow. This is a big-- powwows are a big thing.
  • It's going to be interesting to see if we're like well welcomed or not.
  • But for Dallas, Ashley, and Don, the idea of attending this gathering as outsiders makes them nervous.
  • We don't belong here.
  • No. We did-- the two girls in that hut did not want us here.
  • No?
  • No.
  • Check this guy's hair. Check this guy's hair. Holy [BLEEP].
  • Take note of the number of police vehicles ahead of us.
  • We're sticking out like [BLEEP] orange jumpsuits, man. Like [BLEEP]. I'm definitely a little uneased about staying here. Sketchy. It's [BLEEP] sketchy.
  • The six have arrived at the Samson Cree powwow in Maskwacis, Alberta. While three of the travelers have joined the crowd, Don, Ashley, and Dallas are too frightened to leave their vehicle.
  • Are we supposed to still be in here? Are we going to get out? Or what are we going to do?
  • I'm good at staying here now.
  • [BLEEP].
  • They finally muster the courage to join the rest of the group.
  • OK. I'm going to get out.
  • Go check the scene, buddy.
  • [DRUMS AND CHANTING]
  • With well over 1,000 dancers, the Samson powwow is one of the largest in North America.
  • Hi.
  • The travelers are greeted by Monique Cardinal of Samson Cree Nation.
  • This would be considered a ceremony. But it's also a celebration because it's kind of explaining how proud of who we are as being first nations. And this is our way of showing it.
  • Wow.
  • It involves, as you can see, all ages from little girls, little boys, to elders. And it's just really the power of getting together.
  • We drove through town and I was wondering why there was nobody around. But this is why there's nobody around, right?
  • Yep. Just to clarify, the powwow is open to anyone.
  • Right.
  • It's not just First Nations People.
  • OK.
  • It's anyone. Really, there is nothing that you could feel worried about being here. It's somewhere where you should feel welcome. And don't feel-- don't feel afraid to say hello or get to know others. If you want, feel free, go explore, and welcome to the powwow.
  • Thank you.
  • No problem.
  • With their initial fears eased, the six break up and witness the power of Cree songs and culture.
  • [DRUMS AND CHANTING]
  • And Ashley is already reevaluating her feelings.
  • My initial reaction when we came in here wasn't the best. I'm trying to shake that to get a different experience. The dancing's sweet. And the drumming. And I just-- how everyone is so different.
  • Meanwhile, Ross, Avonlea, and Jamie Sue talk with local Kurt Buffalo. He provides insight into the community far deeper than the headlines.
  • As dysfunctional as Maskwacis may sound in the news, we're very rich with language, with our elders, and the traditions that we-- I want to showcase tonight.
  • That's why we're here today. And this is-- you know what I mean? I live in Edmonton. And I've never come to this. And this is very impressive.
  • But Ross is conflicted about what he saw in town versus what he's experiencing here.
  • Like, to me, you drive in here, the houses-- you know what I mean? It's-- just to me, as an outsider, it's not very welcoming.
  • Yes. The courthouse is full. Our suicide rate is high. See, that sells news.
  • Yeah.
  • But if we become friends, let's say, I'll show you the beauty, I'll show you our [INAUDIBLE]. I'll show you our Sun Dance. I'll show you our recreation center.
  • Where's the news for here? Why aren't they here?
  • Well, they're not here because we haven't had a crime. We haven't had a suicide. We haven't had a murder.
  • Yeah. That's an issue.
  • That's the only time they're here.
  • Across the way, Monique tells Dallas how important this powwow is to the community.
  • The powwow is still alive. It's been around for a very, very long time.
  • Right?
  • And just to know that like it's not gone. Our culture is still here. It's really powerful.
  • Yeah.
  • It really is.
  • Well, there's nothing more that can embrace a culture than something like this. It's unbelievable.
  • [DRUMS AND CHANTING]
  • Experiencing his first powwow has had a major effect on Dallas.
  • You know, at first, I definitely was a little skeptical. You don't know if you're going to be welcome or not. After talking to some of the people, they assured me that, hey, man, it's not like that whatsoever. Man, I just never seen anything like this and like just a race come together, and people come together, and just very proud of what they're doing right here. So I'm just-- I'm just kind of soaking it all in.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Day two in Maskwacis. The six are on their way to meet Monique at the former site of one of the largest residential schools in Canada. Due to the community's location in the heart of Alberta, Ermineskin Residential School was uniquely situated right inside the reserve. Today, it's been replaced by three modern schools that include Cree culture and teachings as part of the curriculum.
  • But the residential school legacy has left lasting scars on the community that have still yet to heal.
  • In front of you is a plaque here to honor the survivors. And as you can see, that you are surrounded by three schools. The first one being a kindergarten school, and the middle being an elementary, and this would be junior high and high school.
  • Before there was such horrific events happening on this specific ground. And for now present day to have youths attending schools here that no longer have those limits as to being the person that they are, we just use it to an advantage and take strength. Because, you know, we never had this opportunity to learn our culture and our language. Now we do.
  • So why-- like my question to the younger generation who are not or were never in residential schools, why are they holding so much anger?
  • Somehow it always circles back to because we were taken and put in residential schools.
  • [LAUGHS]
  • Why are you laughing, Ross?
  • Well, that's what I mean. They always twist it. Always it's--
  • It always comes full circle back to that issue. And I didn't do that. So inform me about what happened.
  • My dad didn't do it either. Your dad didn't do it either.
  • I can't speak for everyone. But it connects back to having these grandparents, who were at the age of six to under 18, experiencing that. And then for them to raise their children. And you can see it in many of the First Nations communities that, you know, they struggle to give love when they weren't really receiving it on their end, right?
  • I just feel like we're desensitized to it because it didn't happen to our own people, and it happens in our own family. If our grandfathers told these stories about what happened, we would definitely have a greater sense of appreciation than saying, ah, hey, well, it didn't happen to us. No problem. That seems to be my issue. That kind of seems to be the discussion here. Right, Ross? That's what you' kind of feel like.
  • Like I said, my grandfather was born in 1902. He came to Canada in the '20s. He had nothing to do with it.
  • Right?
  • My father had nothing to do with it. I had nothing to do with it.
  • But what if it would have been your grandfather? It's very understandable to see why there is tension there.
  • As I said, there's lots of things that have happened in the world.
  • Of course.
  • We've got to go look ahead. We can't keep--
  • I under stand that. But you can't just overlook it, man.
  • No, we're not--
  • You can't just overlook what happened here.
  • If that-- if we were overlooking it, that sign wouldn't be here.
  • How can the average Canadian worry about something they've never even heard of though?
  • Like that's-- that's the big issue is that no one knows.
  • I didn't even know anything about it. And now I think it's one of the cruelest things I've ever heard in my entire life. So it is. Is it not?
  • It's nowhere near the cruelest thing that's happened to human beings. I'll guarantee you that.
  • In Canada, I would say for sure. To get kidnapped-- if you got kidnapped from your house and told you couldn't practice your own native tongue, and if you did, that you'd be sexually abused, you know--
  • We've already said we know it's bad. Yes.
  • Yeah. Come on, man. Let's not be oblivious to this fact. Before 12 days ago, I didn't even know anything about it. And the more I'm learning, the more that stereotypical views is [BLEEP] pissing me off. It really is.
  • Dallas has made a monumental shift in his attitude towards Indigenous People.
  • Basically, man, I just wasn't having it. Somebody is trying to share a moment with you. And it's just going right over your head. Like, man, give your head a shake, dude. Like listen, pay attention. I think that some of these old school people are going to probably think the same way day one than to day 28.
  • For myself, personally, it took me about day six, day seven. I was really started to change my perspectives. And I started to see different walks of life. And, you know, how people have it really, really hard.
  • Things weren't always easy for me. But, man, do I ever feel privileged after seeing how these people grew up. So when they're so narrow minded in your old school beliefs, and just like, ah, well, I thought this my whole life, so I'm going to keep thinking this? Like [BLEEP] you. That's me, man.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Wow.
  • For their next stop in Maskwacis, Don, Ashley, and Jamie Sue meet with Michael Bear, cultural teacher at Ermineskin High School.
  • Every morning, we sing on this drum. The students made this drum. We teach them those skills. They say that the Maskwacis Cree is the hub of ceremony capital. People come from all corners to come learn ceremony. And our elder here, he talks of those stories of elders that have passed on now that have said if it wasn't for the Maskwacis Cree, we would not have ceremony.
  • Ashley is confused. How can a community that places so much value on ceremony have so many deep rooted issues?
  • We've driven around the community. And we noticed that the homes, age-wise, aren't that old. But they look extremely rundown. And seeing the graffiti and just having no pride in their homes. Why is it that, you know, kids in this community are destroying the homes?
  • You just said it yourself. It's a pride factor. How many of them actually go to ceremony? Live the real [SPEAKING CREE] Cree way of life. How many of them [SPEAKING CREE] speak the language? They have no sense of identity. Due to residential schools, Christianity took over a lot of northern communities. And, you know, outlawed ceremonies. They were banned. The '30s, '40s, '50s, into the '60s, finally, they started rejuvenating to come back.
  • In one hand, we still have to retain our language, our culture, our identity. But yet to live in today's society, we have to flip that over. We have to conform. And conformity, which is education. right? We have to get educated in order to live and thrive. Where do we find balance?
  • Don's concerned about how much educating Indigenous youth will cost him as a taxpayer.
  • Where do you get that money? Indigenous Peoples money. As far as I know, the government gets money through taxes. So I pay taxes. So the money you get was my money.
  • Sometimes I can get myself into a rat in a roar sometimes of social media, on Facebook, because you hear it from Canadians, well, your money comes from taxpayers' dollars.
  • Yeah.
  • And really it's not. Every First Nation was given a trust many, many, many years ago. And a portion of that money they used to build off of the interest was, well, we'll work with that interest for the First Nations people. That's where all of our money comes from, for our programming and what not.
  • Why is that?
  • It's a treaty obligation. And that's one thing I want to teach you guys. Do you believe me that you are a treaty person, as well?
  • I am not educated on the treaty.
  • Yeah. I don't know anything about it.
  • Yeah. I--
  • How is a treaty developed?
  • We have no idea. That's why we're here in front of you.
  • It's between two sovereign nations. Once Canada was formed, the queen gave over the power of authority to the Canadian government and the responsibility to uphold those treaty promises. And one of those treaty promises, you'll never be able to give back. Anything below a depth of a plow belong to First Nations people. And the depth of the is this, right? When you look at an old school plow.
  • That was all that Europeans were allowed to sustain off the land. So you look at all the resources and minerals that have been excavated throughout Canada. We're supposed to have a 50/50 balance with the Canadian government. How do you think Canada was able to develop a lot of these infrastructures as a young country? There's no way in hell that they could do that without the Indian money.
  • He was probably the most informative person that I've talked to. And he shed a lot of light on certain things. I thought reserves were funded by our taxes. And I was struggling with that. Talking with him and getting a better perspective on how their community is treated, it's frustrating hearing it, I guess out of the horse's mouth, that my views have changed.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Later in the day, all six reconvene to travel to their next unknown destination. But new-found tensions boil over on the drive.
  • Like you're 26 years old?
  • Yeah.
  • And you never heard about residential schools? Here's what I'm going to tell you. Get the MacLeans Magazine ordered to your house every month. For every-- every Canadian should get a subscription to MacLeans Magazine.
  • If they're going to be that educated, what-- how come-- how come we don't educate that in school?
  • With his recent change of heart, Dallas has taking Ross head on.
  • No. It doesn't matter, man. The money is not the issue anymore.
  • I know. Then why are they asking for money then?
  • They signed the treaties [BLEEP] years ago that agreed to all these [BLEEP] things. That's it, man. They need money to [BLEEP] live.
  • And Avonlea and Don are as apart as ever.
  • When I hear a story that somebody tells about how they were beaten, I haven't heard the story about whether they were beaten before they went to the residential schools.
  • Isn't it enough that they say I feel I was beaten?
  • Does it matter?
  • Oh, that's just part of life.
  • I didn't talk to their parents. I wasn't here in 1886.
  • Are you sure? [LAUGHS]
  • Don doesn't know it, but he's about to finally meet someone who was severely abused at resident school.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The travelers' next stop is that the house of Maskwacis Cree elder, Rick Lightning and his wife Inez.
  • Hello.
  • Hi. Come in.
  • Welcome to my house.
  • Thank you.
  • Nice to meet you.
  • Rick spent his whole life here, raising 11 children and 33 grandchildren. He knows this community as well as anyone.
  • The seed that was planted in this reserve was residential school. The resident of that school has-- that's what they call intergenerational trauma. That's still happening in our reserve. Especially here, because Maskwacis had the biggest residential school.
  • Rick speaks from firsthand experience. He spent six years at Ermineskin Residential School.
  • So a lot of times people say, why can't we just get over it? How old are you?
  • 50.
  • I'm 64. And I've seen things that are unbelievable. Took me years-- I'm an alcoholic, by the way. I've been sober 26 years. I finally dealt with my issues, worked with my issues, what happened to me in residential school. And I'm able to understand who I am and what I'm doing now. And I also understand my own sexuality, as well. That was a real big question. I mean, you're growing up when you're being sexually abused. And so you try to figure out who are you.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • My age group, there's only five of us alive. The rest died in my age group in my Tribe. My brother was in residential school and my sister-in-law were residential schooled. They were-- they died alcoholics. Whatever happened to them in there-- but the effect on their children was unbelievable.
  • My father went to the Industrial School in Red Deer. He told me a story. They were working out in the fields. And there was a big hole there. And their bigger boys are bringing it in a wheelbarrow. And they dumped it. And there was all these little bodies that fell in there. And there-- one of them was their little brother, David Lightning.
  • Those kind of things-- and he-- when he told me when he was 70 years old, the pain in his voice, and the anger, and all the different emotions he was going through, I could hear it in his voice. I was really surprised.
  • We had to go to Supreme Court to get the numbers of the children that died. How do you just get over it, when it's so deep in your psyche. And you-- believe me. I'd love to get over it. I'd love to say, I'm done today. I'm OK. I'm fine.
  • But everyone-- and I personally have-- this is my own personal statement, that every one of us that went through residential school came out of it with some mental issues. Some of us were able to deal with them. Some of us weren't.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • It is important to Rick that the six participate in a Cree sweat lodge. Here, they will get a chance to experience a spiritual ceremony firsthand. As the ceremonial grandfather rocks are being prepared for the sweat, Rick gives the group a deeper insight into what they are about to undertake.
  • Everybody wanted to save us. But the problem with saving us, they've left us with no religion, no belief system. And so that's something that's important to understand is that we have a way of prayer. Churches didn't bring God here. We had prayer.
  • And this is for you to pray for your families at home, wherever they are at. you know, and there's no prayer, set prayer. It's your prayer, from your heart.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • After spending the night at Rick and Inez's home, they gather for breakfast to reflect on their first Indigenous ceremonial experience
  • It relaxes you 110%. Like I slept like pssssh. She had to wake me up, actually.
  • [LAUGHS] Man, I got hot at one point.
  • The second one was hot.
  • Yeah. I felt like my shoulders were burning off. But there's a thing in the sweat that's cool. It can get so hot, and you pray hard, when you focus and you get beyond that heat--
  • You don't feel it.
  • --you don't feel it.
  • Yeah.
  • I thought it was beautiful because growing up I would pray only in hard times. [LAUGHS] And I always prayed for myself. And then so to hear that you're praying for other people, just really drove home the importance of that.
  • For me, it was just like a spiritual connection. And I've never had anything like that before because I was never much one for religion. Like it was a game changer in some aspects.
  • I knew you guys were relaxed, because you-- remember? They were both just laying on their sides, like all right, start her up.
  • [LAUGHTER]
  • That's a good sign. Yeah.
  • There was only one person unable to complete the sweat. Due to concerns about his health, Don opted to leave early on.
  • With that steam, that heat, I couldn't breathe enough. So it just got to the point where I was having a real tough time getting enough air. And I was getting a little dizzy from it.
  • Face-to-face with a survivor of severe residential school abuse, Don finally has his chance to challenge him about how bad it really was.
  • How was yesterday for you? Even the--
  • Well, it was interesting. And learning. And I think that what we've experienced with you is clear, open, honest experiences and information that is very valuable.
  • Ashley and Avonlea can't believe what they're hearing. Don is suddenly unwilling to express the same views he's harped on since day one.
  • Has your view changed on saying that you wish someone had put you in a residential school?
  • No, I--
  • Has that changed?
  • See, you said residential school. And I didn't say residential school. I said I wished I was taken away from my father.
  • And put in a residential school.
  • See, as a kid growing up, I wished somebody would take me away. Because I didn't have to go to school to get beaten. I got beaten at home.
  • Regardless, my view hasn't changed on that. My view hasn't changed on that.
  • I don't think your views will change.
  • The six have split into two distinct factions, with Dallas and the women on one side, and Ross and Don on the other.
  • And I think that Canada needs to know that these children were taken from healthy families. There was no alcoholism in that time compared to today.
  • They've been bringing alcohol to this country since the late 1800s. So--
  • Yes.
  • --you can't-- you can't confirm-- you can't confirm that-- that they weren't--
  • No, no, no. You're not going to tell me the whole--
  • I'm not saying-- know what I mean?
  • No, no, no.
  • We don't have the answers that far back.
  • No, no, no. Wait. Let me finish. That's an excuse the priests used, that's an excuse the government used, that they're all drunks. Why did they take a whole village of children out of there?
  • Because they wanted-- because they wanted to assimilate them to like the white people.
  • They didn't assimilate them. They put them in institutions.
  • I know. But they wanted to teach them English. They wanted then to be like us.
  • And did it work?
  • No. I didn't say it worked.
  • 60 years of residential schools.
  • I know.
  • And when did they figure out it didn't work?
  • Provably a year-- I don't know. I don't have a clue. I wasn't around.
  • How many people had to die in that experiment, too, right?
  • But the thing is, the same time you're forgetting one thing. They made money off these children. Churches made money of these children. These children weren't taken for free. It's a money-making venture by the churches.
  • Just like the schools nowadays get paid by the government for every kid they got in them.
  • No. But this time--
  • It's the same thing now.
  • --you get to go home.
  • True.
  • Why are you here?
  • Eh?
  • Why are you here?
  • Why am I in this house? Or why am I--
  • Like, I'm here to learn. Dallas is learning. You can see that. Jamie Sue, Ashley.
  • I'm catching on to what's going on, and I'm trying to-- I'm-- I'm the average white guy, honest. You know, you--
  • No, you're not.
  • Yes, I am. I-- I've--
  • You know, I hate to say this, he is.
  • I am the average white guy.
  • Maybe in his province?
  • No.
  • [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • Here's an example. I came in here being ignorant towards a few things. I thought that all of our tax money was paying for everything that's around us. And I've learned from being in this home and from yesterday, you know, it's not our tax paying money. The stuff that we're hearing from you and from others, is stuff that Canadians don't know. It's stuff that Canadians aren't hearing. I don't know if-- well, clearly-- if everyone will change.
  • But even if my views aren't what you want them to be--
  • I don't want them to be anything.
  • I know, but still, they're not-- my views aren't wrong.
  • We can't plead ignorance anymore.
  • No. I am the average white guy in this province.
  • He is. He is.
  • It's just the way it is.
  • [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • The problem is-- the problem is he's 100% right as who--
  • He is.
  • It's not narrow-mindedness. It's because he didn't know. And so when you don't know, you create things.
  • But the thing is, he's learning, Rick. He's learning. And he's knowing. And he still won't change his mind.
  • I know. But you can't change--
  • That's what's bugging us.
  • No.
  • But he's not going to change right away. Even if it's a small change, saying, yeah, I went to Rick Lightning's house. It was a nice house. I had a good sweat. And I had lunch. That's a positive thing. And you're right. Most of Canada is like you. And the attitudes are not going to change overnight. But the reality is in day to day life, in that when you go home to your families, you will talk about your experience. And this experience for you guys is all about you. Not as a Canadian society, but more as view as individuals. And saying, hey, I was able to participate. And I got to see things I never knew about. I slept in an Indian's house. It was OK. Just having you here is a good thing.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The group's time in Maskwacis is over you. And the more they learn, the more divided they become.
  • These [BLEEP] don't want to be proven wrong. I came here with ignorant views and I'm open and honest about it. Yeah. I was ignorant towards stuff. But I'm being honest, with all of these guys, being like, you know what? I was wrong. And then you have two people who, in my mind, just don't give a [BLEEP].
  • Over the last couple of days, there seems to have been kind of a rift between us. And we'll see which way it goes. But I still believe the same thing is I believed 20 days ago and some of my opinions might not change.
  • Things are only going to get tougher on the final leg of their journey.
  • We're really looking into the long-term effects of a genocide.
  • Throw those gloves on. We need your help.
  • How I came to be here? I killed somebody.
  • I don't feel that I'm a racist person.
  • I feel like he's the face of that older generation where it's racist.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • What do people really think about Indigenous Canadians?
  • I think of alcoholism. I think of drug abuse.
  • A whole bunch partying and flophouses.
  • They just always get money and handouts.
  • How are they are worse off when they're given so much?
  • We are being made to pay for something that we didn't do.
  • Well, where's my money going?
  • They don't paint their houses. They don't fix windows.
  • Welfare is not a career.
  • They're angry at white people.
  • I mean, they want you to feel sorry for them.
  • Get off your ass if you're unhappy, and go do something about it.
  • Feels like it's just a lost cause at this point.
  • Most Canadians have never taken the time to get to know Indigenous People or visit their communities. This group represents those Canadians. All with strong opinions, they've been invited to leave their everyday lives behind and embark on a unique journey, deep into Indigenous Canada.
  • Welcome to all of you right here to Winnipeg's North End.
  • Ross, a public servant and family man.
  • The past is the past. If you're going to worry about the past, the future's not going to do you no favors.
  • Avonlea, married mother of two.
  • I didn't create a residential school and force anyone into it.
  • Don, truck driver.
  • When somebody says that this is their land, that it always has been. Well, actually, it used to belong to dinosaurs.
  • Gym owner Ashley.
  • I changed my life around. Why can't you do it for yourself?
  • Animal lover Jamie Sue.
  • It's such a big problem that I feel like I couldn't make a difference at all.
  • Dallas, lobster fishermen and welder.
  • If we are going to continue to support Aboriginal people, and not see any results, then when is it going to end?
  • So far on the journey, the six have experienced a different world within their own country.
  • [GUNSHOT]
  • There! You got him! Go, go, go, go!
  • They've had their views confronted.
  • Do you believe me that you are a treaty person, as well?
  • And their emotions pushed to the limit.
  • You don't know.
  • I'm not finished yet.
  • They need money to [BLEEP] live.
  • Some have transformed their opinions.
  • The more I'm learning, the more that stereotypical views is pissing me off.
  • While others have not.
  • And even if my views aren't what you want them to be--
  • I don't want them to be anything.
  • My views aren't wrong.
  • But the travelers are about to face their biggest test yet.
  • I mean, we're really looking at the long-term effects of a genocide.
  • As they hit the front lines to experience life on the streets.
  • Pull those gloves on. We need your help.
  • Then go to prison to learn about life on the inside.
  • How I came to be here? I killed somebody.
  • Where the divide in the group is at a breaking point.
  • I don't feel that I'm a racist person.
  • I feel like he's the a face of that, you know, older generation where it's racist.
  • My response is always, who are the real racists?
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The six are heading south to their next stop on the journey, Calgary. It's a road well traveled for many Maskwacis Cree residents, leaving the reserve in search of a fresh start. But city life can be foreign and unforgiving. There are many trappings here that await Indigenous newcomers. And many of them end up on the streets.
  • Indigenous people represent just 3% of Calgary's overall population, yet 20% of their homeless population.
  • This should be fun.
  • Today, Ashley, Avonlea, and Ross are visiting Alpha House, an inner city detox shelter.
  • Hi.
  • Hello.
  • Hi.
  • We're a harm reduction. So we're not telling anybody that they have to quit this, or stop doing this, in order to have a safe place to stay.
  • Right.
  • Wade Maude runs Alpha House's Indigenous Program.
  • Our focus is to get them in, get them safe, and hopefully get them to them to a mat where they can sleep it off. And then we do detox assessments every morning.
  • Ross is used to seeing Indigenous homeless people on his daily commute. But he has no compassion for them.
  • Living here in Edmonton, you run into a few of them downtown. If you have to take drugs and alcohol because of your choices then that's another choice you made that's probably not a good one. So too bad for you.
  • [CHANTING]
  • Wade takes the group on a smudge to spiritually cleanse the building, something he does twice daily. He leads the group to a sit down with Michael Firing [? Stony, ?] a former addict who's clawed his way back from rock bottom. He now works to help others do the same.
  • It really-- it gets down to we're saving lives, right?
  • Right.
  • I was out on the street for almost 25 years as an addict. And when I got intoxicated, I was angry and I acted out. And so consequently, I wasn't allowed in any of those other places. So this was my last resort. I mean, we're really looking at the long-term effects of a genocide, right? An attempted genocide.
  • You know, with the work we're doing is the very beginnings of that addressing all of that trauma and historical damage that was done. Right? And for me, it's personal-- a personal experience because I'm just starting to come to terms with growing up in foster care, experiencing racism without even understanding it, and always having that sense of not belonging, and who am I, and who are my people? All that stuff, right?
  • A lot of our people that were dealing with here, this may be the first place they ever get to be OK with that, with identifying as an Indian. You know?
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Not far away, Don, Jamie Sue, and Dallas are also about to meet some Indigenous homeless people, but in different circumstances.
  • Dallas.
  • Dallas. Pleasure to meet you.
  • Likewise.
  • Every week, the Aboriginal Friendship Center of Calgary hosts an Indigenous feast for people living on the streets. Sidney Gill is a member of their outreach team.
  • The men and women that you're going to meet here and interact today are all survivors of either residential school, Sixties Scoop, Child Family Services, prison, like myself, or caught up in the cycles of homelessness and all that kind of stuff.
  • Right.
  • A reformed inmate, Sidney spent 10 years behind bars. Here everyone has a story.
  • You get to see who you would think the old drunken Indian on the corner--
  • Yeah. Yeah.
  • --has so much knowledge from his grandparents. And come up with these old songs and all this great old stuff.
  • Yeah.
  • It's amazing the level of again knowledge in these men and women who, at one time in my life, I saw there's a drunken Indian.
  • Yeah.
  • Let's grab some plates and start giving them to the people, with the biggest smile on your face ever.
  • The trio serves lunch and are introduced to some of the Indigenous guests.
  • Jamie, this is some of my friends and family here.
  • I'm not gonna--
  • She just recently came from Maskwacis, bro.
  • Yeah.
  • That's where these two are from. Their family's from there.
  • Oh, OK.
  • After a tragic incident, Darren and Verna Dee left the reserve to restart their lives in the city.
  • Tomorrow is going to be 10 years since I lost my daughter. 10 years, I wait for justice. There's nothing still. A lot of people tell me to let it go, and forget about it. But it's my grief, my loss, my daughter.
  • Verna Dee's daughter was murdered. And the case remains unsolved. The trauma still affects her.
  • The trust issues was gone when they shot my daughter.
  • I'm so sorry.
  • I didn't trust nobody. I didn't even trust my own husband. But I have to stand up for myself. I fight on my own.
  • After listening to Verna Dee and others who shared their own tales of tragedy, Jamie Sue is appalled.
  • Hearing these stories, my heart goes out to them, what a hopeless, lonely feeling they must have. And to have to leave your home to try to find safety and healing is horrible. It really puts a dark stain on the Canada that I thought I knew.
  • Back at Alpha House, Avonlea, Ross, and Ashley are about to face Indigenous homelessness on the front lines.
  • We operate 24/7, and we average about 54 transports a day. So we're extremely busy.
  • Tonight they're patrolling the streets with the DOAP team, short for Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership. They get people under the influence off the streets safely.
  • The idea is around public intoxication as more of a social issue rather than a criminal issue. And that it made sense to get people with addiction issues connected to a social agency sooner than later.
  • Sometimes we actually are first responders, because we happen to be on scene before they even know it's happening, right?
  • Yeah.
  • So you're just a drunk person's cab.
  • Ross is about to have his views on Indigenous homelessness shaken up.
  • Let's see if we can convince Ross that it's not a cab service.
  • You're going to have fun with Ross.
  • The DOAP team has room for just one additional passenger. Ashley volunteers.
  • We see a lot of people coming here because the idea was always the economy is so good here, right? And, of course, when they get here and they're homeless, addictions flare up. Right? Things happen. It's just-- it's an absolutely heart wrenching situation.
  • [CELL PHONE BUZZING]
  • DOAP team, Dean speaking.
  • Police have detained an intoxicated woman at a downtown park. They need to get her to safety immediately.
  • Throw those gloves on. I'm going to need your help.
  • In her condition, this young Indigenous woman is highly vulnerable.
  • [INAUDIBLE]
  • You're good. Perfect.
  • By taking her back to Alpha House, she can safely recover without ending up in jail or far worse.
  • Well, let's go inside and get some rest.
  • I'll try.
  • OK. She's going to help you in too, OK?
  • It's OK.
  • I just want to make sure you don't fall.
  • Ashley is touched by the team's compassion. They treat the woman like a person, not a criminal.
  • Do you have anything in your pockets?
  • There's no aggression. There's no pushing the buttons. There's no arguing. Even the intake with the people at the front desk, just how very welcoming and warm they are.
  • Well, get some rest there.
  • Round two on the streets. This time, it's Avonlea's turn.
  • [CELL PHONE BUZZING]
  • DOAP team.
  • But the next call could be dangerous.
  • Are you expecting he is going to be aggressive when we show up?
  • The Indigenous man they're about to pick up next has a reputation for violence.
  • He'll be at the bus stop down on this hill. Probably shouldn't be too hard. He's not a small man.
  • For Avonlea, a young mother of two, the thought of sitting next to him is frightening.
  • I'm not a big person. I don't have any means to protect myself. He's probably two feet taller than me.
  • But she's about to learn that things aren't always as they seem.
  • What's your name?
  • My name is Trent.
  • Trent? Avonlea.
  • Avonlea?
  • Avonlea. Yeah. Nice to meet you.
  • Nice to meet you. I come from Siksika.
  • Where is that?
  • Siksika is a Blackfoot First Nation southeast of Calgary. Trent left years ago with struggles to find his place off the reserve.
  • My mom is still there. She's taking care of my son.
  • How old's your son?
  • My son, he seven years old.
  • Seven? I have a two and a half year old and a one and a half year old.
  • I got two boys.
  • Yeah. I got two boys.
  • My second boy, and he's nine years old.
  • Really?
  • He's my boy. My boy.
  • Yeah?
  • They're taking Trent to Alpha House after receiving surgery on his foot.
  • When I was in the hospital, I didn't have nobody to visit me. Couldn't get a hold of my family. They would not even let me leave the unit.
  • Why?
  • Why? Because they thought I was going to start punching out all the nurses, and the doctors, and security. So [BLEEP] stereotype.
  • It is.
  • [BLEEP] man. Sometimes you steer to that side. And you wander. Your spirit goes this way, goes that way. And you wonder why you wake up in the morning and you feel depressed, you feel lonely. Your spirit is out there still, wandering.
  • How can you bring them back together?
  • You got to speak your name and you got to pray.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Nice to meet you.
  • It was nice to meet you. Thank you for spending some time with me.
  • Go around the corner and pick up some more people and listen to their stories. Courtesy, common courtesy--
  • Yeah.
  • --goes a long way.
  • Yeah.
  • Great. Yeah. Anyways.
  • By simply listening, Avonlea breaks through Trent's violent image and get to know the real person underneath.
  • He was definitely sharing some very thoughtful things and sometimes people just need to talk. He seemed like he wanted to make that change. He said a few times, I'm not going to be like this. I don't want to keep going like this. And, hopefully, he's able to turn it around. He's still young. He's only 30.
  • He can be a very aggressive individual. It's a facade, right? He needs to do it, to survive on the street. But this is-- this is the individual. I was really happy that we actually picked him up because he's just an awesome guy. We have a lot of awesome people that we're trying to help out.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • The six continue their journey through Alberta. Next stop: Edmonton, home for Ross and Don.
  • We've been going to a lot of cities. But we're to come one where we know where the bad parts are.
  • Yeah.
  • Because we've been to a bunch of other places where we don't know where the bad parts are or the good parts are, right?
  • Dallas also knows the city. He spent six years here working as a welder.
  • The people are pretty good here. But Edmonton's been the murder capital of Canada for a couple of years. Call it Deadmonton at times. Don connects the city's reputation for crime with the Indigenous population.
  • The home invasion stuff is quite often in the areas where the Indigenous people are hanging out.
  • Canada's prison population is disproportionately represented by Inuit, First Nations and Metis people. In some provinces, as high as 76%, in spite of the fact that they make up just 4% of the overall population. Today, the men and women are splitting up to find out why so many end up on the inside.
  • Welcome to Stan Daniels Healing Centre.
  • Thank you very much.
  • Marlene Orr is the warden of Stan Daniels, a specialized Indigenous correctional facility that employs traditional healing techniques.
  • We work from the perspective of teachings that our elders have gave us. The other thing and the most important and the fundamental key to healing is self-determination. The healing lodge was set up so that we could address the root causes of people coming into jail. People have to go through that process of understanding what's happened systemically, and then how the trauma of the Indian residential school has carried on, how it impacts them in their life. And if we can bring them to that point, we can work with them on their healing.
  • Not far away--
  • Come on in. Welcome to Buffalo Sage Wellness House.
  • Warden Claire Carefoot gives the women a tour of a female Indigenous healing lodge.
  • This is a minimum security penitentiary. And we bring them here to continue and complete their healing. So come on up and I will show you our facility.
  • OK.
  • Buffalo Sage has no bars and the corrections officers don't wear uniforms. To Avonlea, it looks nothing like a prison.
  • The women that are here, they're prisoners?
  • Right.
  • Essentially, they've committed a crime to be in prison. How do they end up here versus in a jail?
  • Well, they end up in a federal penitentiary first. They've got to prove themselves there first that they're on their healing path. Anybody who is truly involved in the culture and following the way and not playing the game but is truly involved do not come back to prison.
  • Back at Stan Daniels, Warden Marlene Orr takes Ross, Don, in Dallas to meet an inmate.
  • [KNOCK AT DOOR]
  • Here, inmates are always addressed by their first name.
  • Hi, Alex.
  • How's it going, Alex?
  • Good.
  • Dallas.
  • I'm Ross.
  • Alex has been at Stan Daniels for four months, after spending nearly a year at a federal penitentiary.
  • Here, you're entrusted, like so the people aren't wearing suits are dressed up as guards or anything.
  • Right. OK.
  • And you get a sense of wild being, right?
  • Right.
  • And you build a relationship. You don't got people just yelling at you, or you know, it-- it's hard. They break you down.
  • I bet.
  • Like you know, they break you down in those places.
  • You feel a lot more comfortable in an establishment like this versus where you were.
  • Yes. It makes you feel like a human being. I was a heavy drug addict, you know. My mom wasn't really around in my life when I was a youth.
  • Yeah.
  • So I just was angry about the whole of my mom's situation leaving when I was a kid. But it took me to have a drug overdose. And I committed my crime. And then I tried to escape from reality. And I almost killed myself, Right? So it's been a long road.
  • Inmates at Stan Daniels learn traditional skills and can earn money from the sale of their creations. Alex is helping make a star blanket that could fetch up to $1,000.
  • Oh, nice.
  • This is where-- this is where it goes down.
  • Even Ross is impressed.
  • This would be one of the last things I'd be thinking that guys would be doing, eh?
  • Yeah.
  • No. But power to you. Because it's--
  • Promoting their culture, right?
  • And it's giving you a skill.
  • What kind of steps did you need to take or do to basically get yourself in this situation instead of being behind bars?
  • I had to be willing to give myself up to this. And I actually wanted to learn. I got four years for breaking and enter. It was a home invasion. There was an individual that got hurt.
  • Yeah.
  • I did not cause--
  • But you were there.
  • Yeah. I was.
  • Yeah.
  • I was a bad individual at one point in my life. Yes. My little brother, he was like my little brother to me.
  • Yeah.
  • OK? It was my guardian's son. She was my babysitter since I was this tall.
  • Yeah.
  • And I knew her son since he was in diapers. I used to hold him, you know? And I felt as his protector, he started getting involved in crime. I called him. And I went and lived with him. And I was trying to help him, as well, get out of that lifestyle. But I was just doing more drugs. I ended up in that situation where they wanted to do a crime. And I went as his protector. I didn't want to go, you know?
  • But I was so high, I went with them, you know. And when it was all over, I knew it was wrong. Thinking, you know, it was wrong.
  • Did he end up getting in trouble too, like you?
  • Yeah. He did. But he's no longer with us anymore.
  • He's passed away?
  • Yeah. I tried to get him to change his life. And he-- he got murdered-- he got murdered a year, a year and a half ago. Or almost two years. Yeah.
  • Yeah?
  • Yeah. [INAUDIBLE]
  • You know what the nice thing is for you to do? Is have a good life.
  • I know. I'm never going back.
  • The time spent with Alex is a breakthrough for Ross. For the first time, he's affected by the words he's hearing.
  • If putting people into a environment where they can grab onto their culture helps them become better Canadians, I think this is a fine place.
  • Tomorrow, Avonlea, Jamie Sue, and Ashley will get an opportunity to speak with a female inmate.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Day two in Edmonton.
  • Hello.
  • Hey there.
  • Come in.
  • The women are meeting an inmate at the Indigenous Female Healing Center, Buffalo Sage.
  • This is Trina. Trina has agreed to tell you her story. Do you want to introduce yourselves?
  • Sure. I'm Jamie Sue.
  • Trina.
  • Trina has been at Buffalo Sage for 13 months. But prior to being admitted, she spent three and a half years behind bars. It was a tragic path that led her here.
  • I grew up in Birch Lake. It's a little reserve. It's kind of like an extension of Saulteaux First Nations in Saskatchewan. And I don't remember how old I was when I left. My dad went to jail. Alcohol was a big part of growing up and stuff.
  • Yeah.
  • And there was violence and other things happening in the house and stuff. And the foster homes that I went into were-- some of them were racist. There was this one foster home that I was in where the foster mother waited for mine and my brother's worker to leave. And she made us eat on the floor with her dog, while her family sat at the table.
  • Oh, my god.
  • Really?
  • Yep.
  • So can I ask how long you-- like what your sentence was?
  • How I came to be here, I killed somebody. Someone that I was-- I was close to. You know, I knew-- I knew his family.
  • So was alcohol the fuel behind it for you?
  • Yeah. I was drinking when that happened. I blacked out a few times that night. They're like, well, you know what we're holding you on? And I'm like, no. And they're like, for murder. And then they told me who and I was just like-- I was like-- you know, it-- it was hard to hear that. I hope that they can forgive me. Because the ripple effect of what I did, it went pretty far.
  • What made you in a prison cell decide you know what? I need to work on myself.
  • I was like, do I want the rest of my life to be like this? And I wanted to break that cycle to give my baby a chance.
  • How old is your son? If you don't mind my asking.
  • My baby's seven. He'll be eight in October.
  • And do you get to see--
  • Yeah.
  • I finally do. Yeah. Yeah. He's such a handsome little man.
  • [LAUGHTER]
  • What does it look like for you when you think about the future? You're going to be out of here, and you'll have your son back.
  • I see a place for him that he can come home to, and his own room. You know, a stable job. A clean life. Definitely a clean life because I'm done with that.
  • Back at Stan Daniels, the men sit down with Metis parole officer Leora Muse. After two days on the inside, they have more questions than answers.
  • We're learning that like a good portion of Aboriginal people ares being over-incarcerated in the prisons and jails. Do you know why that is?
  • When I went to university-- I'm actually from Toronto-- we talked about over-representation in prison populations. And that can be attributed to over-policing, and I believe systemic racism. And therefore, over-charged, over-convicted, and over-represented in the prison population.
  • There's also a school of thought that the system itself is racist and that persons in power and persons in positions of authority hold these sentiments. And when they see an Indigenous person in front of them, they have already decided.
  • Don takes exception to Leora's assessment of the justice system.
  • Their background, their experience before they got in the prison system seems to me to be something that would contribute to them doing things that would get them in the system. Where maybe the average population doesn't have such a high influence of that type of--
  • Well, I just have this opinion that nobody was born bad. You are where you are. You're a product of your environment. And you're a product of the things that have you seen and that have been done to you. Once you start kind of putting it together, connecting the dots, you can really see, yeah, I can see how this person would have done that, or had those attitudes, or behaved in such a way.
  • Because when the system itself is racist, it's really, really hard for Aboriginal people to have opportunity. I'm a proud Canadian and I love this country. And it hurts me to think that people have done these things, and implemented these systems of oppression in a country that, you know, sings about freedom in their national anthem. And freedom for all. And these are our First Nations. That's not right. And it's not part of the spirit of being Canadian.
  • The six participants' time in Edmonton is over. Jamie Sue has been moved from her time spent with Trina.
  • She's on the right path and the right journey. And time will help heal it. Breaking that generational abuse in her family. Her son won't hopefully have to go through anything near what she did.
  • But Don's taken the concept of systemic racism personally.
  • I don't feel like I'm a racist person. You keep hearing this, you're white, so therefore you're racist. You're listening to on the news and everything else, my response is always, who are the real racists?
  • I think Don is definitely a little bit of a bigot minded. I definitely. I do. I'm just going to be honest. There is a stereotype about those older generations. You know what I mean? And I feel like he's the face of that older generation where it's racist.
  • The six travelers are on the final leg of their journey. They don't know it yet, but they're going to Ahousaht First Nation, a reserve on the west side of Vancouver Island. And the only way to get there is by boat.
  • Historically, Ahousaht has suffered many issues, rampant alcoholism, sky high unemployment, and just a few years ago, the community was on the brink of financial collapse. But with strong leadership from within, they've made many changes. And have turned the reserve around.
  • Today, Ahousaht is making progress. There are multiple residential projects in development, a traditional health center, and a new high school to keep families at home together.
  • Elected Chief Greg Louie welcomes the group into the community.
  • I welcome you on behalf of our Chiefs, our Tyee Haw'iilth. His name is Tyee Maquinna. He's our top Hereditary Chief. He's not here right now but I welcome you on his behalf and his [INAUDIBLE]. His [INAUDIBLE] is the people. And I welcome you to Ahousaht. I hope you have a stay.
  • Perfect.
  • And a learning experience of who [INAUDIBLE] really are. [INAUDIBLE] is people. Us. And we're here to learn from each other. But in spite of all the recent success here, the limitations placed on Indigenous Canadians makes progress difficult. The chief invites the six to his office to show them why.
  • In front of you here, what I want to show you, is I have the Indian Act of 1876. This here is what holds us back from having some of the freedoms you have. Really. And it still governs who we are today.
  • It's a long time ago.
  • It was a long time ago. What it says is we are wards of the government. Today, we're still wards of the government. To prove that I am an Indian or a First Nations person, I have to have a status card. I have to have the 659 number. 659 means Ahousaht. That's how they code it. So if this expires--
  • You're not an Indian no more.
  • It's always like we're having to prove who we are. We're always having to justify that I'm a First Nations person. And do you have a status card?
  • No.
  • Do you have to prove that you're what nationality you are?
  • No.
  • Any one of you? Do you have to do that? Do you have to walk around with this card in your wallet, in your pocket, in your purse? Canada, it says here has an exclusive legislation authority of Indians and lands reserved for Indians. And this Indian Act tells us who we are. But with the culture of who I am, I know who I am.
  • A word that really is the flavor of the day is reconciliation. You know, what I say to our community is reconciliation, to me, means some of the biases that you may have about First Nations people, put them aside and say look it houses really, really, really good, good people. They're making strides. They're making change. But how can we reconcile? How can we get rid of this? How can we stand together? Because we're not going anywhere. We've always been here.
  • Right.
  • And you're probably not going anywhere. And you can be a voice for us, too.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Day two in Ahousaht, their final location of the journey.
  • Look at that view they got. Holy man. That's a million dollar view right there.
  • Yeah.
  • Impressed by the development happening here, Don, Ashley, and Ross visit some of the new housing construction. It's eye opening for Ross, who held firm beliefs on Indigenous housing.
  • They don't paint their houses. They don't fix windows.
  • Yeah. No. This is very nice. You know, this is just as nice of any town that I've seen a house built, right? So, no, they've done a really excellent job.
  • [KNOCKING ON DOOR]
  • Come in!
  • Nearby, Avonlea, Dallas, and Jamie Sue are visiting the home of Tom Paul, one of Ahousaht's strong leaders.
  • Welcome to my home. Yeah.
  • Tom is a change-maker. Recognizing a need, he and his wife Marcia started the community's first youth drop in center on their own.
  • If you can save one kid from getting peer pressured into drinking or doing drugs or even suicides, having them kind of thoughts, it's well worth what we do. It's just you got to do it.
  • It's not just the children that have benefited. It's helped Tom, as well.
  • It's been the kids that's really calmed my nature. My way of being. Because I didn't treat other people with respect. And probably because I didn't respect myself. And I went to residential school. Your whole way of being is being taken away from you. I have no control over what policies we live under. I know they're unfair. They're-- it's just totally unjust.
  • But instead a ranting and raving about what we don't have and just do the best that we can, we just keep doing what we can do. And we say it to our kids, is that we don't want you to make the same mistakes we did. We want to be better parents. We want to be better role models.
  • And then it rubs off into the community, to these other kids. You know, our kids deserve the best. And we'll get there. We'll just save one heart at a time.
  • Soon, the three will have a chance to visit the drop in center, to see the impact for themselves.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Day three in Ahousaht. Only 48 hours remain in the group's journey.
  • That's a nice house.
  • Ross, Don, and Ashley are meeting with Rebecca Atleo, another one of Ahousaht strong leaders.
  • Hi there.
  • Hi.
  • I'm Ross. How are you?
  • I'm Rebecca.
  • I'm Ashley.
  • A former principal, she's now Ahousaht's director of education.
  • So this is my home.
  • Yeah. This is very nice.
  • We got it built in 1999.
  • This is not a government funded home. Rebecca owns it. She paid off the mortgage last year.
  • Well, with my home, I'd finished university and I wanted to come back home and work here. So I looked into getting my own mortgage. From the time I started the paperwork, it took 18 months to actual buildings stage. And I was the first one to get my house in the community through a mortgage.
  • Yeah?
  • Today, several members of the community own their own homes. It's a major step towards self-realization.
  • We want our kids to succeed. We want them to be able to be self-reliant, and contributors to the society. It's easy to say, well, I'll go get an education. But there's so much more to it than that.
  • We're all Canadians. Are most of the people here proud to be Canadian?
  • I tend to think we're here together. We've got to get along together. You know, we're all human beings. We all bleed the same. We have very much got the same struggles in both societies. We've got these very same aspirations to be better than we are today.
  • All those similarities instead of picking out those little negatives about each other, hopefully there's going to be creating more of an understanding and then and an empathy for each other. And I think if we can sit in dialogue with the other and walk in each other's shoes. And you know I've walked in your guy's shoes and I've lived in that world.
  • And now you've kind of come into my world. You've tasted my food. You've seen where I live. You know, of course it's not traditionally but at least you're seeing a part of what we're about as First Nations people.
  • Oh, wow. A skatepark right on the water. Right?
  • Meanwhile, Dallas, Avonlea, and Jamie Sue reconnect with Tom Paul, creator of the community's only youth center.
  • Well, there, folks. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome again.
  • Hey, buddy.
  • Tom, how are you?
  • How was your night?
  • For a location, he and his wife Marcia repurposed an old abandoned school.
  • This is pretty close to residential school. They were called the Indian day schools. The same kind of attitude and mentality happened to our kids right on reserve. It's just that these kids went home every day.
  • Wow.
  • So I think it was closed in the '80s.
  • Today, Tom's hosting a barbecue for local kids. And he's counting on his visitors for help.
  • So this is it. And we're going to get to the work. And if you want to help me, we'll pack up the barbecue. We've got all the grub here. We'll get that barbecue going. Oh, watch your step.
  • It's a chance for the group to do more than just observe. They are actively getting involved.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • Can I help?
  • Sure, you can. We're building a new foosball table.
  • Oh, wow.
  • Are you excited?
  • Yeah.
  • Awesome.
  • These kids don't know it yet, but they'll be lifelong friends. And it starts from relationships inside this building. Right? So it's nice to see.
  • There you go. Now you got her. Good job.
  • There are more hot dogs in there too, guys.
  • All six of the participants end the day at a potlatch, to commemorate the anniversary of a community member's passing. This traditional celebration of life is so powerful, it's hard to imagine they were banned by the government for decades. For the six travelers, it is a fitting way to end their journey. But there's still one last critical step to come.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • It's the final day of the group's four week journey. But before going home, they will experience the traditional ceremony. Dave Frank and Mary Donahue, two of Ahousaht's spiritual leaders, invite them to the beach to help provide closure.
  • Our teaching is that our body is like a canoe. And our soul sits in there, [INAUDIBLE]. Creator is right here, right here, right now. Got that little breeze blowing on you. You feel it.
  • So today, we want you to get inside your canoe. Ask your creator to help you. And I ask you to look inside yourself and don't be surprised if things start coming up. That's your working.
  • Do not analyze what's going on, or what's happening to you. Just go with it. [? Too. ?]
  • We're starting now.
  • Out of respect for the ceremony, the six participants must remove their microphones, and cameras are not allowed.
  • Would you turn that camera off, please? We're going to start sacred ceremony.
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • After the ceremony, the six gather to discuss their takeaways from this once in a lifetime experience.
  • I came in here knowing zilch about Indigenous People, I came in here thinking that they were given everything, from their housing to their schooling, you know, to all these perks. But the little perks that they do have is insubstantial to the cons that they've been dealing with. I've learned that I can be a voice for Aboriginal people, even though my skin is white. I can be a lot more than what I was 28 days ago to say the least.
  • There's a whole chapter of my heritage from Canada, that I just learned about. I just feel like this is the beginning for me. And I want to go back to school. I want to be able to either be a therapist or counselor or something like that, or at least an advocate. Because they're my people, too.
  • I want to make sure that my kids are raised with that understanding that you don't judge people just based on their yard, or based on the education that they had.
  • Some may leave here not wanting to do anything. But it's up to us as individuals to do what we feel like we need to do. Now I can educate people at home. Maybe smarten some people up.
  • But not everyone's views have undergone a transformation.
  • Coming into this thing, I didn't think of all Indigenous People as being a bunch of lazy, good for nothing drunks. I can't say that my feelings toward Indigenous People have gotten better or worse. I don't think they were bad to start with.
  • I came on this trip with a wealth of knowledge. I'm leaving with a wealth of knowledge. And I'm glad these young people have learned something. Because guess what? I've probably got another 25 years of living. These guys hopefully have another 50 years of living. So guess what? They got 25 years further down the line to do something with the knowledge that they've gotten.
  • If these guys don't want to change their minds, that's completely up to them. You know, I'm going to hate on them. I'm not going to do that. But I at least get to say, you know what? I did educate myself. I did see it. I do understand it. I can empathize.
  • But I want to be part of the solution. And I don't want to be part of the problem. And you can also classify the problem as silence. The fact that there are six of us sitting here talking about it right now is a really good step forward, I feel. And if that can just spark a little bit of momentum to other people, who knows?
  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

TRANSCRIPTS:
Interactive Transcript
Transcript (PDF)

Titles for this Playlist

First Contact Series

By and large, Canadians’ opinions about the Indigenous people...