Freeze frame

Capturing Métis stories through film

It would be hard to demonstrate the spirit of the Métis people in just one video, but 100 videos might stand a better chance.

Siblings Janelle and Jérémie Wookey say that, along with the rest of the crew at Wookey Films Inc., they are embarking on a project to collect videos that showcase what it means to be Métis in 2016.

“The hook is to collect 100 videos of Métis individuals and their elders over 100 days,” Janelle says. “But that’s not what’s most important.”

Janelle and Jérémie say their ultimate goal is to create unity and to start a conversation. 

“We hope to get a better sense of where we all are as Métis and get a portrait of the community,” Jérémie says. “Bringing people together and connecting with people is the main goal.”

The Wookey siblings are Métis, but say their relationship with their roots is complicated. 

“It’s been about a 10 year journey. Our family only discovered later that we were Métis,” Janelle says. “For me, it’s knowing who I am, where I come from and what blood is running through my veins.” 

For Jérémie, it’s a bit different.

“It’s pretty complex,” Jérémie says. “Just recently I’m starting to connect with it a bit more. I’m trying to figure out what role it plays in my life and how to incorporate it in regular life.” 

Janelle says that through their grandfather and other key figures in the Métis community, it became evident to Janelle and Jérémie that Métis stories and experiences needed to be documented. 

“A big thing for this project is encouraging that exchange between youth and their elders,” Janelle says. “That’s been one of the biggest challenges. A lot of elders are still resistant to identify that they are Métis.”

Janelle explains that when the first Métis were born, they were forced to create a community and culture because they didn’t fit in with the indigenous or settler communities. 

“That awkward space that we live in is at the root of our existence,” Janelle says. 

Janelle says what interests the pair is uniting community and youth to create not only a sense of pride and belonging, but also explore what Métis people have to offer other communities. 

Jérémie says they’ve received feedback encouraging the project.

“A lot of the characteristics of Métis people that make them Métis is resilience, resolve, strength and spirit,” Janelle says. “That is what is going to help reignite our communities, culture and our place in society.”

The Wookey’s hope to collect videos for the project that every Métis person can connect with and that will encourage those who haven’t felt connected yet to integrate themselves or to feel more welcome into the Métis community.

“To get a sense of what other people are feeling creates a form of connection and hopefully that online space can serve as a place where people can have that exchange,” Janelle says.

Part of Jérémie’s pride and interest comes with connecting to the Métis people in the videos. 

“Hearing how connected people are with their identity, or not, it’s such an interesting question,” Jérémie says. 

Janelle and Jérémie’s dream is that, once these videos are online, they will be available in 100 years, so as to freeze frame who the Métis people of 2016 were.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the final mosaic of 100 faces,” Jérémie says. “It’s going to be fun.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 21 of The Uniter (February 25, 2016)

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