Director Statement: As I grew up in the Algoma region of Northern Ontario, I developed a strong connection to the land. I continued to explore that connection as a writer and television producer in Yukon, the Eastern Arctic and British Columbia. The creation of Agawa Canyon was a great professional development opportunity to move from analogue video to the art of digital storytelling.
This story is very personal to me as it speaks to my heritage, the land I grew up on, and the need to fight for what is important. I’ve known Lorna both professionally and in the community for the last 30 years and it’s been such a pleasure to collaborate with her on this project. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to watch and reflect on Agawa Canyon.
Collaborator Statement: Agawa Canyon is the first digital story created using Lorna Boschman’s new digital storytelling technique. This technique draws on numerous similar methods adopted by artists who work with community members. Foremost influences are Challenge for Change (National Film Board of Canada program) and StoryCenter.org who have been making digital stories for decades, informed by Joe Lambert’s Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives/Creating Community. In the Vancouver area, visual artist/writer Persimmon Blackbridge collaborated with me on many videos about her work, chronicling the lives of people who have lived and worked in institutions. I mentored participants who created digital stories for the Cancer’s Margins study, including Verna Stefan’s just being.
When Harris asked me to show her how digital production worked, I invited her to collaborate in telling a digital story. Harris heard the story when she was young and has been thinking about it ever since. To help develop her ideas, I kept asking for her story as she revised it. As her script developed and her story was refined, she realized that her sisters and other family members had a collection of historic photos that she was able to incorporate into the project. And before the story was published, Harris was sharing it with people who want to bring back the former Algoma Central Railway. Who’s going to Canyon?