A pre-film panel discussion at the Windsor International Film Festival on Nov. 1 welcomed Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, administrators, and athletes to the stage at the Capitol Pentastar Theatre.
The evening kicked off with welcome remarks from the University of Windsor’s associate vice-president external and WIFF executive director Vincent Georgie, president Robert Gordon, and elder-in-residence Myrna Kicknosway.
The pre-film panel discussion featured senior advisor to the president on Indigenous relations and outreach Beverly Jacobs, Aboriginal outreach and retention co-ordinator Kat Pasquach, Lancer men’s hockey head coach Kevin Hamlin, and student-athletes Mason Kohn and Anthony Stefano. Group members shared their individual reflections on the impacts of the residential school system following a visit to B.C. earlier this fall where they participated in ceremony and were welcomed by Elders, survivors, and staff at the Kamloops Indian Residential School and worked directly with First Nations communities in the Nicola Valley.
“We can do things every day to challenge the status quo towards truth and reconciliation,” said Kohn, a second-year law student. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with my teammates and this group of people from the University.”
Stefano, a first-year education major, added that everyone in B.C. was welcoming.
“As a future educator, I know this trip will stick with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
The hockey players gave each Elder a personalized Lancer hockey jersey, and after the film screening, actress Elder Edna Manitowabi joined Dr. Georgie on stage to recount both her experience acting in the film and as a residential school survivor.
“A part of me was severed the day I entered that residential school,” she recalled. “The embers of my culture still burned deep within me all those years, until the flame was awoken once again by the Water Drum in my own community.”
Dr. Jacobs reiterated her pride in the team for their efforts in B.C.
“Truth and reconciliation is about action, and these young men took and continue to take action,” she said. “Establishing relationships and making connections with Indigenous communities is so important. These are steps to establishing trust and an example of the greater impact that one action, one ripple, can have.”