Irish film producer Maureen DePietro and Chief Lyle Sayers at the premiere of 'Nanabozhung' at the Galaxy Theatre in Sault Ste. Marie on September 7.

Irish film producer Maureen DePietro and Chief Lyle Sayers at the premiere of ‘Nanabozhung’ at the Galaxy Theatre in Sault Ste. Marie on September 7.

By Margaret Hele

SAULT STE. MARIE – The beauty of our land was shown throughout the documentary entitled Nanabozhung featuring Batchewana First Nation. The humour that sustained natives was vividly apparent. Citizens of the Batchewana and Garden River First Nations expressed their feelings as they related stories of what happened in their lives and what has been told to them from Elders.

Three years ago the wind farm partnered with Batchewana to produce a film which would relate the history of the first people of this area. Writer Guy Hibbert from England and film producer Maureen de Pietro from Ireland were contacted and the process began. Fifty hours of filming took place followed by hours of editing. In June, two months before the premiere showing, Harvey Bell and Chief Sayers were flown over the ocean to England to preview the final draft.

The premiere showing on Sept. 7 in Sault Ste. Marie included those who had participated and their relatives. Participants were curious and excited to see if their parts had been included. All were very proud of the results. A native perspective of what happened and what is still taking place in Canada was passionately told by our own people.

Barbara Nolan, a fluent speaker and featured in the film, met the filming crew by chance in Garden River.

“I had driven on the back roads to see the beauty of the trees. Looking at the maple trees and thinking of the beautiful colours that they would soon be I saw a car stopped alongside the road and went and asked them if they needed assistance,” said Nolan.  She explained to them who she was and asked if they were including the language aspect into their film. Nolan gave them her contact information and was later filmed speaking Anishinaabemowin about maple trees.

Dawehsol Hayward, could not sit still as he waited with his parents to see himself in the film.

Hayward said, ”I’m seven years old.” Hayward was filmed at Gorgantua Harbour, Lake Superior, along with other children.

“Outstanding scenery,” commented Garden River First Nation citizen Alice Corbiere.  “The film showed the beauty of our land. The movie was thought provoking and very sad at times but the scenery and smiles throughout –  the laughter at the conclusion were much appreciated.”

A surprise for Corbiere was to see her grandson, Greg, in the film. Greg was one of the wind farm construction workers.

Congratulations to all who had a part in bringing this production to fruition and those who took the lead, Maureen De Pietro, Lisa Williams, Chief Dean Sayers, and Guy Gilbert. De Pietro (DP Energy Solicitor and Director) Ireland, who was moved by the profound interest and respect the natives showed for the land, financed the film. Lisa Williams, the director and Guy Gilbert the screen writer and producer are both from the United Kingdom.