L.V. Rogers students who took part in an exchange with students from the Northwest Territories have commemorated the experience with a documentary they plan to share.
Students have recently completed a 40-minute documentary about the exchange experience that saw 17 high school students from Nelson host 16 youth from Chief Julius School and then later visit their community of Ft. McPherson. The film will premiere at the Nelson Civic Theatre on Wednesday, September 18.
Condensing an adventure of epic proportions was a challenge for one of the ten students who worked on the film project. Micah May, 15, said bonding with his own schoolmates and making friends in another part of the country was an enjoyable experience they wanted to convey.
“What we tried to make this documentary into was something that showed how much fun this was,” he said. “But then we also showed how the two groups connected and offered glimpses into what we got to do and our reactions.”
While in the Kootenays, students went snowshoeing at the top of the Salmo-Creston Pass, downhill skiing at the Salmo hill, listened and learned from Allison Girvan’s Corazon choir and toured Touchstones and Nelson Hydro.
In the north, they were immersed in a culture where elders are revered and hunting is a way of life. Temperatures reached -30 degrees Celsius and the sun shone at 3 a.m.
The exchange was a first for May, as was taking on the role of filmmaker. Each of the students working on the project put together a section and eventually all were compiled into a final product that no one has yet seen.
“We’ll see it for the first time also in the Civic Theatre when it’s presented,” said May.
Parent volunteer Cathy Scott-May said the exchange dubbed North and South was a significant experience for students and the film is relevant to all Canadians showing the situation of aboriginal youth in the NWT.
“We can’t all participate in these things directly but I think that we can, though something like this documentary, get a glimpse into the significance of this,” said Scott-May.
The first part of the exchange saw Nelson play host in February and then in April, the LVR students headed north — far north.
Alecia Maslechko said the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that everyone was lucky to have. It fueled her interest in travel.
“This was the first time I really realized that travelling and experiencing different cultures is really quite important,” she said. “I think it’s important for us to share what we learned and saw with other students as well as with the community and in this age of technology, what better way to share it than on the big screen? While there is both humour and excitement, I hope people leave with a feeling of open-mindedness and inspiration.”
The film will start at 7 p.m. Following the movie, the LVR students will get up on stage to take questions from the audience. They will also be acknowledging the many local businesses, organizations and individuals who helped to make the exchange such a successful experience for them and their new friends.
With Ft. McPherson 4,000 kilometres away, it’s cheaper to fly to France, one reason exchanges among students living in Canada are rare.
“This is one of the most expensive youth exchanges Canada has ever funded because students went from the small community of Nelson to a remote community in the north,” said Scott-May. “A lot of resources were invested into 17 youth in the Nelson community and they have a responsibility to share with the broader audience what that trip meant to them.”
Beyond families and friends of students participating, people in the Nelson community have become captivated by the story of adventure. LVR students took a risk travelling so far from home to a community where lifestyles are so dissimilar, she explained.
“I think this struck a chord where people appreciated these students were really going to do something quite different,” said Scott-May.
May also participated in the summer 2013 Students on Ice Arctic expedition, which involved travelling to Greenland and Canada’s eastern Arctic aboard a ship with youth and researchers from around the world. He will be sharing stories and photos of the expedition following the discussion about the exchange documentary.
“It was pretty amazing,” said May. “I do a lot of hiking and back country skiing around here and so I like being in the harsher climates. It was cool to go up there and see the big landscapes and also to just meeting people from around the world was amazing.”
Tickets for the show are $5 at the door.